Has your doctor asked your child to fill out a survey before they come in to see them? If you answered yes, your child probably filled out a screening questionnaire.

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These are questions that help raise a red flag to the doctor to ask you or your child more questions. Even though these screening questionnaires are backed up by research to be able to pick up people who are depressed, they can’t be used alone to make a diagnosis of something like depression. You need a professional to do that.  Just like a vision screen done at school might pick up that your child might need glasses, you need a professional to tell you exactly what the problem is.

A health professional can:

  • ask more detailed questions about what is going on
  • think about the symptoms in the context of the rest of your child’s health
  • follow your child over multiple visits to see whether the symptoms are just happening because of a certain situation and then go away – or whether they last longer
  • think about other medical or mental health problems that could be causing the symptoms or making them worse

Remember to give your child privacy when they are filling out screening questionnaires. They may be embarrassed to fill it out in front of you! If you have concerns you’d like to talk to the doctor alone about, make sure you let them know that too. After the visit, if your child is willing, encourage them to talk to you about what they and the doctor talked about. If they don’t want to tell you this time, try again the next time!

What do you think about screening tests? Do you think your child should have to take them before they see their doctor?

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