The Importance of Behavioral Health Screenings

Early and regular health screenings are necessary to stay healthy at any age, but they are especially important for children, who are growing rapidly and expected to achieve particular milestones with age.

October 26, 2019  

Stay healthy. Get screened.

When problems are caught early, for the most part they are easier to address and can prevent problems from getting bigger. Health screenings are all part of routine preventive care. These include many types of screenings, such as developmental, vision, hearing, dental, behavioral health and others. These screenings can jumpstart early treatment if necessary. Providers have a schedule they follow and know when each type of screening should be done. 

What to expect during your office visit

Specifically for a behavioral health screening, you can expect that when you bring your child or adolescent for an office visit, you will be asked to fill out a survey about your child’s:

  • Sleep
  • Energy 
  • Appetite 
  • School performance 
  • Ability to make friends 
  • Mood 
  • Behavior 

Adolescents may be asked to complete a similar survey about themselves. This is all part of a routine behavioral health screening. 

Providers will use a survey that is appropriate for your child’s age. The survey will come from a list of MassHealth-approved, standardized behavioral health screening tools. These tools can be helpful in highlighting areas you may be concerned about. They can make it easier to talk to your provider about your concerns and what you can do. 

Providers may discuss developmental expectations, give reassurance and even give common, effective parenting techniques that may help address your concerns.  

During time with your adolescent, your provider may discuss:

  • Avoiding the use of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and other substances that can lead to abuse
  • Violence
  • Bullying 
  • Depression 

If there is a need for further assessment in the area of behavioral health, your provider can offer the necessary behavioral health services or help refer you to another behavioral health specialist in your network.

Regular screenings, including a behavioral health screening, are important at any age but especially in growing children and teens learning coping strategies for new developmental challenges. If your provider does not offer a behavioral health screening, don’t hesitate to ask about it. Share any concerns you have about your child’s development, including problems with mood and behavior. 

Your provider is eager to help and find ways to keep your child on track and healthy for life.