The Rebound: Milwaukee hospital part of cutting-edge study to spot at-risk teens

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Posted at 5:29 AM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 11:34:07-05

MILWAUKEE — As many children continue to learn from home, the National Institute of Mental Health is concerned about teens' mental well being.

“We are concerned and it's really a challenge,” said Dr. Jane Pearson National Institute of Mental Health psychologist.

Despite the pandemic and schools closed, a psychologist at the University of Michigan was determined to make sure teens aren't falling through the cracks.

Through funding from the National Institute of Health, she was able to get her experimental survey into more than a dozen pediatric hospitals across the country.

This includes Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Doctor Cheryl King, a psychologist with the University of Michigan says thousands of children age 13 to 17 years old filled it out, “Whatever the reason, we screened all youth who came into the ER. High fever with influenza or a sports injury.”

What made her survey different was that based on the teens' answers, they were asked different questions that may seem off-topic. This includes, ‘are you afraid to be alone in your house?’ or ‘how often have you been bullied.’

“We called them three months after they were in the emergency department,” King explained.

There were two separate surveys conducted. King says both had more than an 80-percent accuracy of spotting at-risk teens, “In Milwaukee that young people are reporting feeling more and more distressed being stressed and depression. That’s why we really focus on screening because so many youth don’t come in for help.”

The hope is for more children’s hospitals to use this survey and eventually schools as well to spot teens in need early.

Here are ways you can find help now:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Text ‘HOME’ to 741-741 to reach the crisis text line.
  • All calls and messages are confidential

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