School screening for depression mooted

Policy makers should “seriously consider” a program whereby a brief screening tool is administered in schools and psychologists can deliver appropriate interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the experts said.

Australian researchers, including high profile mental health intervention evaluator Professor Jane Pirkis from the University of Melbourne, modelled such an intervention based on the 2003 Australian population of 11- to 17-year-olds and evaluated it using outcomes from a meta-analysis.

The psychological interventions were largely CBT-based and delivered by psychologists in group format, although the authors suggested internet-delivered services may also be cost-effective.

Dr Nick Kowalenko, chair of the faculty of child and adolescent psychiatry at RANZCP, agreed there was potentially a role in mild cases of depression, but said that hard evidence was not yet in.

He believes there is a strong case for