Online Program

Do school based depression screening programs produce stigma

Monday, November 4, 2013

James Walkup, PhD, Clinical Psychology, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Background: School-based depression screening programs have been advocated as a way to overcome barriers to identification and treatment. Critics have charged that these programs may wrongly medicalize teen distress. Methods: An online experiment compared social distance and other stigma-related outcomes for vignettes describing: (a) a teen in whose initial screen was negative (despite experiencing distress); (b) a teen whose initial screen was positive, but at second stage was determined not to have depressive disorder; and(c) a teen whose initial screen was positive, and at second stage was determine to have depressive disorder. Results: Social distance did not differ for the three groups. However, the groups with screen positive with depression was judged more severe, and were more likely to be judged to need mental health treatment, suggesting Ss were able to discriminate between this group and the other two. Ratings indicated the screen negative teen was significantly less likely than either of the screen positive groups to see negative consequences of disclosure. Discussion: To the extent findings can be applied to the controversy over depression screening in schools, findings provide a mixed picture. No evidence was found that Ss believed either group who screened positive was likely to be ostracized, but Ss did believe that either of the screen positive groups (with or without subsequent depression diagnosis) were more likely to suffer some loss of positive regard of others if their problems were disclosed.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the impact on stigma of school based depression screening programs Analyze policy significance of stigma and school based depression screening

Keyword(s): School-Based Programs, Depression

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a clinical psychologist with a long standing interest in stigma and public policy. I have an extensive record of empirical research on service delivery to populations confronted by high levels of stigma.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.