Mental Illness and Suicide in Teens - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among U.S. high
school students in 2007:
- More than 6 million felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 weeks that they stopped doing some usual activities
- More than 3 million thought seriously about killing themselves
- Almost 1.5 million made a prior suicide attempt
A Window for Prevention
- 14 to 20% of youth experience mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders at any given time, according to the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council
- First symptoms of mental disorders occur 2 to 4 years before the onset of a full-blown disorder
- Only 1 in 5 adolescents receives treatment for a mental health disorder
Most parents think they would know if their child was depressed or at risk for suicide, but research reveals that 80 percent of mentally ill youth are not identified and do not receive services. Screening can help find those youth who are suffering from undiagnosed mental illness or are at risk for suicide, make their parents aware of their children’s difficulties, and help connect them with mental health services that can save their lives. When left untreated, mental illness can lead to devastating consequences. These include drug and alcohol abuse, violence, school failure, involvement in the criminal justice system, and the loss of critical developmental years that can never be recaptured.
Teen Screen is a national mental health and suicide risk screening program for young people. The programs goal is to ensure that every parent is offered the opportunity to have their teenager receive a voluntary mental health checkup.
Teen Screen is a voluntary screening program that requires both parent consent and youth assent for participation. The program uses a questionnaire and interview process to determine if a teenager may be at risk for depression, other mental disorders or suicide. Screening is not a diagnosis. Parents of youth found to be at possible risk are notified and helped with connecting to local services where they can obtain a complete evaluation by a qualified professional. Treatment decisions, if any, are always left to parents. The program was developed by Columbia University’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. It has been researched and evaluated in a variety of settings with diverse youth populations. Research conducted on the Teen Screen Program reveals it is effective in identifying young people who are at risk for depression, other mental disorders and suicide. Screening has also been demonstrated to be a safe practice. A research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that screening does not cause youth to become depressed, suicidal or distressed.
Screening can take place in schools, clinics, shelters and a variety of other youth-serving organizations and settings. The Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma provides the Teen Screen program to schools and communities free of charge. Complete program implementation, materials, screening questionnaires, and referral information are included. To learn more about the Adolescent Wellness Service or to sign up your school or community for the free program, please contact Courtney Nauert at 405-943-3700 or email@example.com