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Tuesday - February 27, 2018 10:39 pm

Mental health screenings for depression recommended for children

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Getting an annual checkup or sports physical, doctors may check the heart, lungs or maybe even draw some blood.

A new recommendation, however, would have them judging mental health, as well.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending children aged 12 and up undergo a mental health assessment at least once a year, called a PHQ-9 exam.

Mayo Health System pediatrician C.J. Mengah in Onalaska says kids are talented at hiding their issues.

"You see these kids that you've seen year in, year out, and you think they're OK and they're doing good in school," Mengah said. "Then they fail their PHQ9 and these are depressed kids. And you get these kids help and things just go so much better.

Suicide is the number one killer of kids aged 10 to 17. Mengah says therapy at a young age can make a huge difference.

"Just to talk to somebody for just a little bit, a lot of times it's all better," he said. "Instead of them coming in and their scores are high and maybe they need medicine or maybe they need to go to psychiatry. It's better to catch this early."

Mengah says Mayo has been doing this for the last two years and remains surprised at some of the results in young children.

Drew Kelly

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