School Screening May Lower Depression Among Adolescents
A recent study focuses on the impact of screening students in schools to identify depression. The research team suggests that screening is a more successful approach than teachers’ reports on behavior that might demonstrate depression. Depression is very common and can affect adults of different ages, as well as adolescents. In 2019, around 15.7% of adolescents in the U.S. experienced depression at least on one occasion.
Although in 2009 it was suggested that all adolescents undergo a screening test, that has never been achieved in practice. The study’s authors point out that more than 60% of adolescents don’t receive routine preventive healthcare due to significant disparities and inequalities. Since most adolescents attend school, schools are a good place to identify those who suffer from depressive episodes.
According to Dr. Sekhar, the corresponding author of the study, the number of depressed adolescents has increased in the last ten years and during the pandemic. He believes that the second leading cause of adolescent death is suicide caused by mental health issues.
The study involved 12,909 students from 14 different high schools. The results showed that 9.5% of the students who took part in the study met the criteria for major depressive disorder. The researchers believe that universal screening could also help identify other mental health problems. Still, the schools need to be well-funded to help students who suffer from mental health disorders.
The research team intends to further their work and find a way to support schools that want to implement universal screening. Future research is needed to investigate the extent to which universal screening can identify students with subclinical symptoms. This study shows that this type of screening may help identify adolescents who suffer from a major depressive disorder. Still, to achieve that objective, schools need to have the necessary resources.