Children should be screened for mental health issues, says report

Children as young as seven should be screened for mental health problems, according to a new report.

Published in the British Medical Journal, it claims that three-quarters of mental illnesses experienced in adulthood began at a young age and that early screening could prevent them from developing.

It suggested that all schools should employ counsellors to administer short tests for these youngsters to identify early signs of depression, anxiety or anger problems. According to, these tests would involve them taking short questionnaires about the child's emotional state.

The report's author, Dr. Simon Williams, said the move could help reduce the stigma around mental health issues. It could also create a wealth of opportunities for those in counselling careers, as not all primary schools currently employ counsellors.

Commenting on the report, a Department of Health spokesperson told "This is not something currently under consideration. However, we and the Department for Education would seek independent, evidence-based advice from the UK National Screening Committee before introducing mental health screening for children.

"We want all children to have good, safe mental health care, which is why we are investing £54 million into improving access to mental health treatments for children and young people."