In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) taskforce on mental health proposed routine and universal mental health screening for children. For the before school age population (ages 0-5) AAP recommends that mental health screeners be used as a secondary screener following a concerning general developmental screen, particularly if there is a concern in the social/emotional domain of the tool. For the school age population (ages 5-18) AAP is recommends that mental health screeners be used on an annual basis for all children regardless of concern. This presentation addresses the need for use of validated pediatric mental health screening tools to promote behavioral health for all children, increase early identification of children with delays, and emphasize timely referral to appropriate supports and services for children with behavioral health concerns.
Approximately 14 million children and adolescents in the US have a diagnosable mental health disorder, yet only 20-25% of affected children receive treatment (US DHHS, 1999). Half of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14 (AACAP, 2009). The average delay between symptom onset and biopsychosocial intervention for children is 8-10 years (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2009).
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