More than 1 million teens in the United States suffer from depression, yet fewer than one-third of them receive help, according to the TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups. TeenScreen is a national mental health and suicide screening program for young adults developed by Columbia University’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The Reasons for TeenScreen
The program is based on research conducted by Columbia in the 1990s, which found that screening can accurately identify signs of possible mental illness and risk of suicide in teens. TeenScreen was first implemented as a nationwide screening program in schools and communities. In 2009, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that primary care providers screen all teenagers between ages 12-18 for depression, TeenScreen expanded its program accordingly. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine mental health checkups for all adolescents, and the Society of Adolescent Medicine supports early identification of mental illness as a critical standard of care.
Today TeenScreen offers free tools and materials to healthcare, educational and community-based professionals to screen for depression and mental illness in adolescents. Through the TeenScreen Primary Care and Schools and Communities programs, mental health screenings are provided by more than 1,300 primary care providers and in nearly 600 school- and community-based sites in 46 states. The organization also works to promote public policies that expand access to mental health checkups.
Screening for depression and other mental illnesses is a safe and effective method of early identification of mental illness and youth suicide prevention. And screening by primary care providers using a standardized screening instrument has been well received by patients, parents and providers.
New TeenScreen Registry
Primary care physicians who screen teenage patients for mental illness can sign up with the Columbia University TeenScreen Registry for free resources. The registry program will start officially in June but is open for sign-ups now. Registered physicians will receive evidence-based screening questionnaires and patient education materials. They can also join the upcoming Columbia TeenScreen Registry listserv and online provider forum.
To Learn more
For more information, visit TeenScreen at www.teenscreen.com. In addition to information about programs, leadership, policy and participation, the site’s library is fully stocked with annual reports, brochures, research, events and webinars, implementation materials and fact sheets, resources, research studies, case studies, white papers and much more.