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Mental health surveys being implemented during children's physical exams

August 13, 2012
by Shannon Brys
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Similar to the blog I posted last week about online mental health screenings being offered to students at universities, students at an even younger age will now be screened for their mental health.

In a story by Patti Singer, she talks about students, ages 11 to 19, being required to answer questions regarding their mental health when they go in for a free physical exam at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.  The physicals are performed by residents that have finished medical school but may not yet be licensed to practice. 

The questions in the survey ask the students questions regarding being happy, being sad, acting violent while angry, being pressured into sex, drugs or tobacco, wearing a helmet and/or a seatbelt, and how safe they feel at home and school. 

This is the second year that the university has used this risk assessment survey, but for the first time, students will be connected to psychiatry residents if they choose to talk to someone.  They will also connect the students with resources on topics they want to know more about or feel awkward handling on their own.

According to the article, there has been an overwhelming amount of students and parents that reach out to get appointments for these free physicals each year, but due to lack of capacity and funding, the program has had to turn children away each year.

My sister who is going into her senior year in high school recently had to go in for a physical for her soccer team.  I went with her and the process took no longer than 15 minutes.  I feel that this process of asking students about mental health would be very beneficial across the world and I hope that more facilities adopt some sort of survey.  I feel that kids are under a lot of stress and pressure these days and sometimes you might not know of a problem, until you ask the right questions.

The article also says that parents are sent a copy of the questions and reminded that the questions are part of the physical.  I can’t really see a reason why the parents would be opposed to a survey like this.  I am not a parent, but I can say that I would like to be aware if my child was experiencing something I was not aware of. 

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Shannon Brys