In February, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended yearly screenings for depression in children and adolescents.
If such recommendations were heeded, then children and adolescents would be screened for depression by their pediatrician at the same time as their yearly physicals. With depression rates increasing each year, and an abundance of research supporting the need for early detection, this recommendation is a step in the right direction.
Mental Health America published a report earlier this year showing that 63% of youth that meet criteria for major depressive disorder do not receive any treatment.
This means that more than half of children and adolescents diagnosed with major depression do not receive any treatment and are at risk for more severe symptoms without any intervention.
As the push for early screening for all ages continues, it is expected that rates of depression and other mental health disorders will rise.
It is here that we will run into the problem of finding the right provider.
The therapeutic relationship is one of the most important factors in treatment.
Finding a provider that meets your needs (relatability, availability, location etc.) is hard enough but then issues such as finances and insurance coverage arise.
The solution to this problem could be simple.
Gateway providers such as pediatricians, school counselors, social workers, and case managers must be equipped with proper knowledge of resources available in the area. As a result, treatment would become more readily available and prognosis improves.
For parents, knowing how your child is feeling also yields positive results.
Children and adolescents rarely vocalize the need for treatment.
Parents with strong communication who are involved in their child’s life are more likely to seek treatment for their children. When this happens, children and adolescents are more responsive and see a reduction in symptoms much sooner than those who delay treatment.
In closing, yearly screenings can be beneficial for everyone.
The next step could be as simple as knowing what is available and how to access it.
Some resources we recommend are referrals from primary care providers, mental health professionals, and school counselors. Another more broad resource is PsychologyToday.com which contains profiles of mental health professionals in your area.
Have questions or concerns about school safety and mental health issues?
Please share your questions or concerns in our comments below.