Depression and suicide concerns increased among adolescents during the pandemic, especially among females, according to a study published in Pediatrics. Researchers compared the percentage of primary care visits among adolescents with screening for depression, screening positive for depression, and screening positive for suicide risk between June-December 2019 and June December 2020 (pre-pandemic vs pandemic periods). During the pandemic period, there was a decrease in depression screening at primary care visits from 77.6% to 75.8% (prevalence ratio [PR], 0.98; 95% CI, 0.9-1.06). However, an increase was seen in the percentage of adolescents screening positive for depression, from 5.0% to 6.2% (PR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.15-1.34), with greater increases among female adolescents, non-Hispanic Black adolescents, and non Hispanic White adolescents. There was an increase in positive suicide risk screens, from 6.1% to 7.1% (PR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.08-1.26), and female adolescents had a 34% increase in the odds of reporting recent suicidal thoughts (PR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.18-1.52). “Given these patterns, pediatricians are encouraged to consistently screen adolescents for depression and link identified adolescents to treatment,” the authors wrote.

Querying Firearm Access on Mental Health Questionnaire Deemed Feasible

Most patients completing a mental health monitoring questionnaire answered a question about firearm access, according to a study published in JAMA Health Forum. Investigators examined whether and how patients self-report firearm access information on routine mental health monitoring questionnaires and examined sociodemographic and clinical correlates of access in a cross-sectional study. Data were included for 128,802 patients who completed a mental health monitoring questionnaire after a single question about firearm access was added between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019. The study team found that 74.4% and 39.3% of patients who completed a mental health monitoring questionnaire saw a primary care clinician and a mental health specialty clinician, respectively. The primary care and mental health samples were both primarily female (64.9% and 63.1%, respectively) and White (77% and 75.7%, respectively), and the mean ages were 51.1 and 42.8, respectively. Overall, 83.4% of patients who saw a primary care clinician answered the question about firearm access; of these patients, 20.9% reported having access. In the mental health sample, 91.8% answered the question; of these patients, 15.3% reported access. “This research demonstrated that including a standard question about firearm access on a mental health monitoring questionnaire was feasible,” the authors wrote.