Sun Editorial: Should the state implement depression screening for teens?

Or should it look elsewhere for a solution? We want to hear your thoughts.

By Alan Bauer
The Sun

If you think you’re reading more stories about teen depression and suicide, you’re right, according to officials. State lawmakers who have introduced a measure they say will address teen depression point to statistics that back up that belief.

Backers of Assembly Bill 3926 say the number of kids and teens hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and attempts doubled from 2008 to 2015; some 50 percent of adolescents with depression aren’t diagnosed before adulthood; and as many as two in three don’t get the help they need.

Their ideas to help include implementing annual screening for depression for students in grades seven through 12. A school official, such as a counselor, would ask students a couple of questions. If the results indicate the student might be struggling, his or her parents would be notified. The American Academy of Pediatrics has supported screening kids 12 and older.

The numbers are hard to deny, and it would be impossible to find anyone who wouldn’t want to do as much as possible to reduce teen depression and suicide.

The debate, of course, will come in the details, such as the impact testing will have on school staffing, the costs associated with the screening and questions over whether these resources are best spent on screening or better used in other areas, such as promoting additional anti-bullying programs.

Today’s teens face challenges and circumstances many of us did not when we were growing up without, for example, social media. Bullying, to a great degree, used to be found on the playground or through the stereotypical “give me your lunch money” bully. Today, stress, including bullying, can come in many forms. New strategies to help teens clearly are needed.

What are your thoughts? Should the state implement depression screening for teens? Should it look elsewhere for a solution? Send a letter to the editor with your thoughts to news@berlinsun.com.

To be printed, letters must 300 words or less with a full name attached. Also, include a phone number (it won’t be printed) so our staff can call and confirm your submission.