To promote access to mental health screening for adolescents, the full Assembly recently approved legislation (A-3548) that would require health insurers to cover the expense of depression screenings for children from 12 to 18 years of age. The bill passed 77-2.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people. Children suffering from depression are 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 the quality of life and prevent tragedy.
Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington, Camden) and Verlina Reynolds Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) 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.”
The bill will now go to the Senate for further consideration.