According to the Surgeon General, one in five children will have a mental healthcare issue, such as depression or anxiety, by the time he or she is 18. That’s 20 percent.

Yet many pediatricians aren’t always comfortable asking about mental health. Mental health screening should begin when children are school age, as early diagnosis and treatment can improve school performance, interaction with peers and family relationships.

Parents should be on the lookout for changes in the following areas, which may signal a mental health concern:

  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Energy level
  • Interest in favorite activities
  • Friendships
  • Grades
  • Grooming

Parents sometimes believe that adolescence is supposed to be turbulent and that children are supposed to be miserable. While adolescence is certainly a period of change, it shouldn’t be a consistently awful time. Just like people refer to the ‘terrible twos’ of toddler years, by and large, it should be a happy time, with some challenges mixed in. If that’s not the case, mental health screenings should be considered.

Are you worried about your child’s mood and weight? Researchers at Children’s National want to learn about stopping depression and diabetes in teenagers! Eligible youth ages 12-17 are invited to participate in a 6-week virtual group program with compensation provided. Click here for more information!


Adelaide Robb Adelaide Robb, MD, is the Chief of the Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, specializing in depression and mood disorders, anxiety and attention deficit disorder. She is an internationally known clinical researcher and has participated in and led multiple therapeutic trials for children with a variety of behavioral and psychiatric conditions.

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