Mar 3, 2018, (UK) Guardian: Screen teenagers annually for depression, say US doctors

On Monday the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published new guidance that adolescents should be examined every year from the age of 12 to ensure those with depression can get timely help.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the UK government finished consulting on a green paper on adolescent mental health, which focuses on early intervention and suggests schools should play a more central role. Strategies include mental health awareness training for school staff and incorporating mental health into personal, social and health education lessons. …

Universal screening as advocated by the AAP would involve doctors giving teenagers questionnaires on their emotional wellbeing to complete as part of regular checkups.

Some experts also have reservations about the recommended age of 12, particularly as UK doctors are hesitant to prescribe antidepressants to minors.

In the UK, the NHS does not usually recommend antidepressants to those under the age of 18, as there is some evidence they may trigger suicidal thoughts and affect brain development.

Dr Vikram Patel, professor of global health at Harvard Medical School, said there was no global precedent for screening at such a young age.

Patel suggested screening should be twinned seamlessly with a treatment programme including psychological interventions and antidepressant medication.

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