Teen mental health concerns surface in new Minnesota clinic study

Only 40 percent of Minnesota youth received a mental health screening as part of their preventive checkups last year. Of those, 1 in 10 showed signs of depression or other mental health concerns, state officials said Thursday.

The results come from a first-ever analysis of Minnesota health clinics. The study shows clinics are doing well in counseling children on obesity but suggests they're falling short on mental health evaluation.

Of the 98,000 3- to 17-year-olds in Minnesota who had a wellness exam last year, 29 percent were considered overweight or obese, slightly lower than the national average. Of those kids who were screened, 85 percent were counseled about nutrition and exercise by their provider the Minnesota Department of Health said.

While officials were encouraged by the nutrition counseling rate, they remain concerned about data indicating less than half the state's clinics are screening adolescents for depression.

"When clinicians did screen for depression, they found 9.7 percent — or 4,300 of 43,400 young people screened — had indications of a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety or attention disorders," the department said, noting that "untreated depression in adolescence has been tied to an increase in social isolation, academic failure, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, tobacco use and suicide."

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