Simple paper test helps assess teens for depression

Simple paper test helps assess teens for depression

As headlines of teens suffering at the hands of bullies and its long-term effects continue to emerge along with other adolescent troubles, it’s painfully clear that children’s mental health matters. A new study from a University of Texas Arlington researcher addresses this issue and investigates how a quick test may help get depressed teens the help they need.

The research, published in the May issue of the journal Women’s Healthcare: A Clinical Journal for NPs, finds that primary care settings may be ideal places to screen teens for mental health. An assessment test done in a healthcare provider’s waiting room during a well visit could make a big difference.

A simple paper test called a Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children or CES-DC is widely accepted and would be a fast, reliable way to determine whether a teen needs to be referred for mental health support by a practitioner.

Statistics highlight the need for more attention to this issue. It’s estimated that 5 to 20 percent of teens suffer from depression, however, many don’t receive the necessary treatment. The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners along with the American Academy of Pediatrics have both promoted screening for mental health problems in primary care.

“Getting teens treatment when they need it is essential and has potentially life-saving benefits,” said study author Sharolyn Dihigo in a statement. “Providing this test while a family waits for their appointment can overcome hesitation to talk about the feelings and behaviors linked to depression and lead to treatment success,” said Dihigo, director of UT Arlington’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

The CES-DC is free and requires no additional training for anyone who administers the screening. It’s a 20-question assessment that asks teens how their sleep and mood have been affected in the past week.

Dihigo’s study was a systematic review of 14 studies previously conducted by other researchers.

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  1. This needs to become a standard test in all elementary schools. We need to do something to help curb our young people from hurting themselves or others. Thanks for this informative article.

    • Nikki Hopewell May 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm · Reply

      Yes, Diana. And if this were part of well care visits, it could have a tremendous impact on the problem. Glad you found the information educational.

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health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.