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Teen Mental Health

About the Project The goal of this project was to assist pediatric and family medicine practices to implement a systematic approach to identify teens at high risk for depression by routine screening at health check ups. Practices were trained to evaluate, manage, and monitor progress of teens that screen positive for depression.

Key steps of the project were to:

  • Provide clinicians and nurses with training to enhance office care and optimize mental health referrals.
  • Support systemic follow up by the practice with a confidential web-based teen registry to fulfill three key functions:
    • Provide prompts and reports to insure regular follow-up and patient assessment;
    • Assistance by Adolescent Psychiatrist who can provide consultation via a listserv and by reviewing the progress of patients in the registry; and
    • Tracking by practice staff of objective measures (depressive symptoms, medication and referral compliance).

Practices interested in participating were asked to:

  • Designate a practice “Project Contact Staff member” and a clinician “Practice Leader” who will work with Dartmouth staff over 9 months to establish a system of depression screening, and consistent follow up utilizing the registry.
  • Have clinicians participate in an on-site training and web-based seminars, conducted by the Dartmouth Adolescent Psychiatrist to enhance evaluation and management skills for teen depression. Ongoing consultation about depression management is available from Adolescent Psychiatry via a listserv for the clinicians in the project.
  • Routinely use a validated depression screener (PHQ-9 Adolescent) during teen well-child visits using either a paper-based or electronic screener (HealthyTeens PDA).
  • Have a designated nurse(s) who will contact families in follow up calls and maintain the registry of teens that screen positive.
  • Complete baseline and follow-up interviews or surveys assessing current “best practices”, and attitudes about screening, evaluating and managing teen depression.

The project recruited practices in 3 cycles over the three years of the grant. See Final Report.