UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi (pictured above) recently posted an opinion piece on the organization’s website announcing that he and his team have launched an outreach campaign into area school districts, bringing trained facilitators, under the supervision of a psychologist, into classrooms to discuss mental health and suicide prevention with middle and high school students. He states that, so far, his team has reached more than 8,000 students, and schools report that more teens are opening up to teachers, guidance counselors and parents and seeking help.
In the piece, Dr. Trivedi, a psychiatrist, explains that this effort is in response to the lack of mental health screening available for teens, and the increase in teen suicides in recent years. He states that: “Suicides, the No. 2 cause of death for teens, have risen dramatically in recent years – up about 70 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to federal statistics. Nearly 13 percent of adolescents age 12 to 17 had a major depressive episode in 2016, up from 8 percent in 2006. The rise of online bullying, family and school stresses, trauma and substance abuse are among the factors contributing to this problem.”
Dr. Trivedi explains that both primary care doctos and parents are often reluctant to assess a teen patient’s mental state because they haven’t had adequate training or are afraid to make the teen feel worse. He emphasizes the importance of mental health screenings by saying: “Unfortunately, our society tends to ignore the mental health of teenagers until there’s an overdose or other tragedy. The time has come for doctors to reach out to teens who need help before they have a crisis.”
In addition to the outreach program, Dr. Trivedi’s team has “developed an innovative web-based application, VitalSign6, to enhance health care access and the standard of care for those affected by depression. Through its use, physicians have access to validated depression screening and assessment tools that measure associated symptoms and provide clinical decision support for treating depression.”
Dr. Trivedi concludes with: “There remains a stigma attached to mental illness in our society, but continuing a don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach is not the way to go. We are losing too many of our children. Routine screening for mental health conditions, as well as early diagnosis and intervention, can change the course of – and perhaps even save – a young person’s life.”
Read the full article here.
Madhukar H. Trivedi, M.D., is director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute in Dallas. Photo courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center.
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