Presentation Title

Universal Depression Screening in Student Health Centers across Montana: Prevalence and Characteristics Associated with Use

Authors' Names

Ivie English

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

College students evidence higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population (Alschuler et al., 2008; Benton et al., 2003), making novel interventions and methods for increasing engagement with depression care necessary. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in the United States, and Montana consistently ranks among the top five states for highest rate of suicide in the country (American Association of Suicidology, 2014). Student health centers based on college campuses in states like Montana present a unique window for reaching students who may have previously had limited access to mental health care in rural settings. In fact, most people—college students included—seek help for mental health issues through primary care (Strosahl, 1998; Bount, 1998), which places this setting in a unique position to reach students with mental health concerns who may not actively be seeking treatment, but who would benefit from it (ACHA 2010). Despite its potential promise as one path to improved college student population health, the rates of universal screening for depression and related conditions in student health primary care settings are currently unknown (Shepardson & Funderburk, 2014). Although universal depression screening has potential to increase the identification and treatment of depression, disagreement exists over its utility and cost-benefit analysis (Mitchell et al., 2009; Joffres et al., 2014). The present survey examined the prevalence of universal depression screening among primary care student health centers in Montana colleges and universities. The survey was sent electronically to student health center and medical directors of 11 public 2- and 4-year colleges and universities across Montana. Nine respondents (81.8%) completed the survey, and of those, 66.7% reported having a student health center on campus. Of those with a student health center, 66.7% reported currently universally screening for depression in primary care. Other components of universal screening for depression and student health center characteristics were examined in the survey, including degree of healthcare integration and barriers or reasons for not screening. The top reason identified for not screening was concern about how to accommodate more mental health referrals with positive depression screens, as there is already a waiting list for mental health services. Schools the reported universal screening also described ‘helpful practices’ in implementing screening protocols, with one of the top examples being use of an electronic medical record. The survey results have been sent to the Montana Suicide Prevention Task Force to help guide their recommendations to the Montana Board of Regents. Our results will advance clinic and policy conversations about the use and utility of universal depression screening in student health centers across Montana.

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Apr 27th, 2:25 PM Apr 27th, 2:40 PM

Universal Depression Screening in Student Health Centers across Montana: Prevalence and Characteristics Associated with Use

UC Ballroom, Pod #2

College students evidence higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population (Alschuler et al., 2008; Benton et al., 2003), making novel interventions and methods for increasing engagement with depression care necessary. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in the United States, and Montana consistently ranks among the top five states for highest rate of suicide in the country (American Association of Suicidology, 2014). Student health centers based on college campuses in states like Montana present a unique window for reaching students who may have previously had limited access to mental health care in rural settings. In fact, most people—college students included—seek help for mental health issues through primary care (Strosahl, 1998; Bount, 1998), which places this setting in a unique position to reach students with mental health concerns who may not actively be seeking treatment, but who would benefit from it (ACHA 2010). Despite its potential promise as one path to improved college student population health, the rates of universal screening for depression and related conditions in student health primary care settings are currently unknown (Shepardson & Funderburk, 2014). Although universal depression screening has potential to increase the identification and treatment of depression, disagreement exists over its utility and cost-benefit analysis (Mitchell et al., 2009; Joffres et al., 2014). The present survey examined the prevalence of universal depression screening among primary care student health centers in Montana colleges and universities. The survey was sent electronically to student health center and medical directors of 11 public 2- and 4-year colleges and universities across Montana. Nine respondents (81.8%) completed the survey, and of those, 66.7% reported having a student health center on campus. Of those with a student health center, 66.7% reported currently universally screening for depression in primary care. Other components of universal screening for depression and student health center characteristics were examined in the survey, including degree of healthcare integration and barriers or reasons for not screening. The top reason identified for not screening was concern about how to accommodate more mental health referrals with positive depression screens, as there is already a waiting list for mental health services. Schools the reported universal screening also described ‘helpful practices’ in implementing screening protocols, with one of the top examples being use of an electronic medical record. The survey results have been sent to the Montana Suicide Prevention Task Force to help guide their recommendations to the Montana Board of Regents. Our results will advance clinic and policy conversations about the use and utility of universal depression screening in student health centers across Montana.