More than half of all mental disorders begin by age 14, but the majority of teens struggle for years before their illness is diagnosed. During that time, symptoms can often worsen. Suffering continues, as does the risk of suicide. That’s why our focus at TeenScreen is the early identification of mental disorders. An annual screening can alert parents and providers of a possible mental health problem early, before symptoms are full blown.
But, parents and providers have told us that screening can offer other benefits, even when the results are negative and a teenager shows no indication of a mental disorder. By completing the screening questionnaire, teens have an opportunity to think about how they’re feeling — about themselves, their relationships with peers and family, and the responsibilities of school. They can respond to questions that they most likely have never been asked. The screening process can open up a conversation on topics that are often difficult to broach and hard to discuss.
In our latest video, TeenScreen Primary Care Program Director Christina Newport discusses how routine mental health screening can help teens, their parents, and providers in unexpected ways.