Depression screening at the doctor’s office is familiar to most adults. A new study out of UC Davis gives it a twist: screening moms for symptoms of depression when they bring their kids for a checkup. And why not? “Pediatricians are in a position to talk to moms about the effects of depression on their children and use that as a motivation to get their symptoms evaluated,” the lead author tells ScienceDaily.
The study tested the effectiveness of a very specific intervention, composed of a questionnaire and then “targeted education that focused on removing the stigma associated with depression and how treatment could improve their children’s health” for mothers with symptoms. Nearly 74% of them sought help, compared with 54% of controls who were simply screened and given more general information,
That seems like a win-win, and suggests that whether you stick to a specific intervention or not, pediatricians talking to moms about mental health is a good idea. And it certainly makes sense that emphasizing the powerful effects of a mother’s wellbeing on her child’s health is a good motivator. “If I can give pediatricians an efficient intervention to implement in their practices,” the lead author says, “we can really increase our ability to identify women with depression.”
This all just begs the question—why not also give pediatricians the tools and education they need so they can also identify kids with depression?