Improving Early Identification & Treatment of Adolescent Depression: Considerations & Strategies for Health Plans
Depression is the most common mental health disorder among adolescents with over 25 percent of adolescents affected by at least mild symptoms. Unfortunately, depression is often undiagnosed in adolescence despite the availability of effective screening tools and recommendations for screening in primary care from the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Health plans are in a unique position to support the integration of screening into primary care by training providers to use screening tools, creating a reimbursement mechanism for use of these tools, and coordinating referrals for depression treatment. This issue paper examines the prevalence of adolescent depression, consequences of unidentified depression and costs of screening and treatment. The issue brief reviews recommendations and tools for primary care providers to identify and treat adolescent depression and shares opportunities for health plans to support providers in identifying and treating adolescent depression.