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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises depression and suicide risk screenings for all teens 12 and older, according to their updated schedule for preventive care posted online this week.
Screening for suicide risk has been added to the existing depression screening recommendation, in line with the AAP Guidelines on Depression in Adolescents in Primary Care, which was published in 2018.
In the 2018 guidelines, the AAP recommended annual screening for depression for anyone between the ages of 12 and 21, citing reports that around 50% of adolescents with depression are diagnosed before reaching adulthood. and up to two out of three depressed teens get none. help or care.
The AAP-recommended AAP Health Screening urges healthcare providers to assess risk with a series of questions.
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“Often it’s nine different questions that ask about depressive symptoms and very often at the end of that series of questions a child is asked about suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, thoughts that they might be dead or alive, thoughts that maybe they’re having a little trouble,” Dr. Nathan Copeland, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Duke Health, told CBS 17.
Physicians are then invited to discuss mental health resources if they identify a problem.
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“It’s something that children have struggled with for a very long time and if we can come out of this as a community, be more able to support each other, if we can come out of this more able to engage children and support them, I think there’s a lot of hope there,” Copeland said.
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Since the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety have continued to soar among teens and children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 44% of teens felt hopeless or constantly sad in the first few months of 2021 and 55% said they had experienced emotional abuse at home, according to a survey published April 1.
“Mental health issues in children, teens and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people were struggling with feelings of helplessness, depression and suicidal thoughts – and the rates have increased over the past decade,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said in an advisory last December.
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“The COVID-19 pandemic has further altered their experiences at home, school and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating. The future well-being of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation,” he added.