With National Children’s Mental Health Week, May 1 – 7, 2011 we want to recognize the importance of mandated behavioral screenings during annual well child visits. A study published in the March, 2011 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine indicates that behavioral health screening has increased the number of children and adolescents being identified as at risk for behavioral and emotional problems. The study, led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, looks at data from 2008-2009. They found that the number screens completed increased from 80,000 to 300,000 per year. The number of children identified by the screens as being at risk more than tripled.
We know that early identification, intervention and referral for children and adolescents at risk for behavioral and emotional issues is a critical factor in reducing risk. Helping youth and families access care can positively affect their emotional and behavioral development. By embedding screenings in an annual well child visit we create the ability to track emotional growth similarly to physical growth. This helps also in reducing stigma and silence and allows for open dialog and conversation.
Every week should be Children’s Mental Health Week. Join us in continuing to raise awareness, understanding, and education. By giving voice to knowledge we reduce stigma and risk.