Parent Views on School-Based Depression Screening: Findings From a National Survey



      This study explored parent views on school involvement in screening and identification of adolescent depression.


      This was a cross-sectional Internet-based survey with the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. Of 2,004 parents (63.4% response rate), 770 had a middle/high school student and were eligible for this module. Poststratification weights were generated by survey vendor Ipsos. Descriptive and bivariate results were calculated; multinomial logistic regression models controlled for parent sex, race/ethnicity, education, employment status, and school level.


      Parent respondents were 54.8% female, 57.5% white, 64.3% above a high school education, and 79.7% employed; 76.2% were answering based on a high school student. Most parents supported school-based depression screens starting in sixth (46.7%) or seventh (15.1%) grades, although 15.9% responded no screening should be done. Among parent respondents, 93.2% wished to be informed of a positive screen. Regression analysis found parents of middle school students were 4.18 times more likely to prefer sixth versus 9th to 12th grade to start screening.


      Most parents support middle school depression screening but overwhelmingly wished to be informed of a positive result. Guidelines for maintaining adolescent confidentiality in a school-based depression screening program will require careful consideration.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment


      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Healthy Healthy People 2020 Objectives
        Mental health and mental disorders. MHMD-4.1 Reduce the proportion of adolescents aged 12-17 years who experience major depressive episodes.
        (Available at:)
        • Parikh S.V.
        • Taubman D.S.
        • Antoun C.
        • et al.
        The Michigan peer-to-peer depression awareness program: School-based prevention to address depression among teens.
        Psychiatr Serv. 2018; 69: 487-491
        • Bhatta S.
        • Champion J.D.
        • Young C.
        • Loika E.
        Outcomes of depression screening among adolescents accessing school-based pediatric primary care clinic services.
        J Pediatr Nurs. 2018; 38: 8-14
        • Law W.C.
        • McClanahan R.
        • Weismuller P.C.
        Depression screening in the school setting: Identification of the depressed adolescent.
        NASN Sch Nurse. 2017; 32: 364-370
        • McCormick E.
        • Thompson K.
        • Stoep A.V.
        • McCauley E.
        The case for school-based depression screening: Evidence from established programs.
        Rep Emot Behav Disord Youth. 2009; 9: 91-96
        • Sekhar D.L.
        • Pattison K.L.
        • Confair A.
        • et al.
        Effectiveness of universal school-based screening vs. targeted screening for major depressive disorder among adolescents: A trial protocol for the screening in high schools to identify, evaluate, and lower depression (SHIELD) randomized clinical trial.
        JAMA Netw Open. 2019; 2: e1914427
        • Siu A.L.
        United States Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for depression in children and adolescents: U.S. Preventive Srvices Task Force Recommendation Statement.
        Ann Intern Med. 2016; 164: 360-366
        • Vander Stoep A.
        • McCauley E.
        • Thompson K.A.
        • et al.
        Universal emotional health screening at the middle school transition.
        J Emot Behav Disord. 2005; 13: 213-223
        • Wisdom J.P.
        • Clarke G.N.
        • Green C.A.
        What teens want: Barriers to seeking care for depression.
        Adm Policy Ment Health. 2006; 33: 133-145