Depression Screening Available to Teens


Kristine Carrillo, (505) 925-7608

Depression Screening Available to Teens

Envision New Mexico leads initiative to improve adolescent behavioral health

Envision New Mexico, the state’s leader in pediatric health improvement initiatives, is working with school-based health centers (SBHCs) statewide to reach out to New Mexico teenagers who are struggling with depression. As a part of this initiative, all students who visit a school-based health centerare screened for potential health and behavioral health issues, including depression, using a comprehensive health questionnaire developed by the NM Department of Health, Office of School and Adolescent Health.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, publishing in the journal Pediatrics, recently recommended that all teenagers be screened for depression if systems are in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, treatment, and follow up . Envision’s behavioral health quality improvement program is helping SBHCs meet this recommendation.

The statistics on youth depression are sobering. Studies indicate that one in five children have a mental, behavioral, or emotional problem. Among adolescents, one in eight may suffer from depression. Of all the children and teens struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, only 30 percent receive any intervention or treatment.

School-based health center teams are uniquely suited to identify and address student depression and related issues because of their accessibility and regular interactions with students. School-based health centers combine physical and mental health services and emphasize prevention and early intervention. They are perfectly set up to offer screening, assessment, and treatment of depression, as well as crisis intervention and suicide prevention. When students visit an SBHC for any reason they are offered a Student Health Questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed to flag any risk factors for behavioral health issues, including depression, and alert providers to a need for a more thorough behavioral health assessment.

Located within the Department of Pediatrics at the UNM Health Sciences Center, Envision New Mexico is dedicated to quality improvement initiatives in pediatric health care. Its staff of physicians, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, social workers, health educators, and psychologists work with community health care professionals to make sustainable changes in their practices to improve the quality of health care for children and families in New Mexico.


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