For the first time in over a decade, the American Acedemy of Pediatrics- the governing body of medical guidelines for children and adolescents- has updated its guidelines on teen depression screenings.  According to an article posted by WNYT, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now saying that any child above 12 should be screened for depression at their regular check ups.  It’s reported by WNYT that up to one in five teens have depression at some point, and go undiagnosed or untreated.  I want to point out that this guideline was recently announced, while New York has been pushing for mental health education and access to resources for teens for some time.  In fact, back at the end of January, the Times Union reported that per New York State law, schools are now required to have mental health education in their curriculum.  Back in October, the Daily Star out of Oneonta posted about mental health as a growing concern for schools as well.

As someone who has worked with teens and adults in healthcare, I completely support adolescents as young as twelve being screened for depression.  Every adult gets screened right now- whether you realize it or not.  In every setting I’ve worked as a nurse, from outpatient primary care to psychiatric crisis, I’ve had to screen for depression.  It’s a requirement for adult physical exams, and often times just a two quesition screener that’s asked.  So why not screen teens?  There’s so many factors at play with this demographic- from hormones to social life, bullying to school pressure, stressful home lives to peer pressure and possibly substance use.  I have to say kudos to New York for being ahead of the trend.  The Capital District should be proud of itself!

Also- if you do know a child or teen that is struggling, there are numerous resources in the Capital District, starting with Albany’s own Children’s Mental Health Division.