To promote accessibility to mental health screening for adolescents, the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee cleared legislation () on Thursday that would require health insurers to cover, at no cost to the patient, the expense of depression screenings for children from 12 to 18 years of age.
Depression is the leading cause of disability, affecting more than 300 million people. Children suffering from depression have been found to be at greater risk for recurrent depression in adulthood, along with other mental health disorders and suicidal ideation.
By detecting depression early through screenings, a treatment plan can be put in place to improve quality of life and prevent tragedy.
The bill’s sponsor Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington, Camden) issued the following statement:
“To achieve better outcomes in adulthood, it is critical that we identify mental health disorders early. Depression screening is an easy way to catch mental health issues at an early stage and establish a treatment plan that will help manage symptoms.
“We must treat mental health care in the same fashion that we do for physical health and place a strong focus on preventative care. Mental health disorders are treatable, but it is important that we identify the problem before a person is in crisis. Given the prevalence of mental health issues among today’s youth, we must take action to ensure adolescents struggling with their mental health are able to get the help they need.”