Pediatrics Academy: Ask kids about depression

Posted at 6:13 PM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-07 18:13:40-05

A Norfolk father who lost a teenage daughter to suicide says new guidelines for pediatricians could save lives.

"It is vitally important" to talk about depression with younger students, said Eric Peterson. Sarah Peterson, a Maury High School Student, was 15 when she ended her battle with depression.

In response, he and his wife started the Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation to end the stigma surrounding teenage mental illness, and to help children who are struggling with depression.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics said it will encourage doctors to do "depression screening" for children as young as 11 as a way to combat teen suicide. The Academy recommends these screening happen annually. A main goal of the Petersons' foundation is to reach younger children, to identify as early as possible when children might be suffering with depression. Having that question come during a regular pediatric checkup will help accomplish the goal, he says.

"We need to include the mental health piece along with the physical health," he said. "We need to turn it all into just 'health.' It's all part of  your health."