Legislation making its way through Harrisburg would make depression screenings routine in Pennsylvania schools.
Companion bills in the House and Senate would make the screenings as common for students as those for hearing and other medical issues.
Allegheny and Washington County Senator Guy Reschenthaler says too many kids are struggling with the undiagnosed disorder.
“I think it’s important to interdict early,” he said. “A lot of these children face depression at age 14. If we can get help to them quickly and teach them coping mechanisms….it will go a long way.”
Some members of the Senate Education Committee expressed concern that a diagnosis could negatively impact someone later in life, but others say the important thing is getting much-needed treatment to a troubled teen before their depression becomes too much to handle.
The bill ended up passing the committee unanimously.
If this becomes law, the provider would ask a list of questions to the student. If the child screens for depression, the school psychologist will be informed. The parent will also have the option to refer the child to a psychologist.