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Press Release

Press Release # 034-06
Sunday, May 14, 2006

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (after hours)
Sandra Mullin (
Sara Markt (


May is Mental Health Month

NEW YORK CITY – May 14, 2006 – In recognition of Mental Health Month, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA) announced that free depression screenings for children will be offered at over 20 locations citywide on May 16, 2006. Mental health professionals will be on-site at these locations and educational materials will be offered in Chinese, Spanish, and English. To find a screening location near them, New Yorkers should call 3-1-1 and ask for LIFENET.

"Many children with depression are not getting help," said Executive Deputy Commissioner Dr. Lloyd Sederer. "Depression is severely undiagnosed in children and adults. Parents and caregivers should know the signs of depression in children, including loss of interest in doing things, bad mood, and trouble in school. Seeking treatment for your child is important for their health and well-being, please call 311 and ask for LIFENET to find out where to get a free depression screening."

An estimated 5% of children aged 9-17 have major depression nationwide. A 2003 study showed that 32% of high school students in New York City reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks in the past year.

How to Recognize Depression in Your Child

Children and adolescents often cannot communicate feelings directly. They need parents and other adults to notice a problem and get them help if necessary. When identified with screening, depression can be treated with therapy and /or medication.

A child who struggles with any combination of the following behaviors for 2 weeks or more may have an emotional problem that needs attention. For help, call 311 and ask for LIFENET.
Children 6 to 11 Adolescents
  • Persistent worry or anxiety
  • Decline in school performance
  • Difficulty going to sleep
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Repeated refusal to go to school or take part in every day activities
  • Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrums
  • Hyperactivity or excessive fidgeting
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Trouble paying attention, concentrating or getting organized
  • Marked decline in school performance
  • Persistent bad mood
  • Problems with authority figures
  • Truancy, theft, vandalism, or consistent violation of rights of others
  • Substance use, including use of tobacco
  • Intense fear of becoming obese, with no relationship to actual body weight; constant dieting; restrictive eating habits; purging; or vomiting
  • Frequent outbursts of anger
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Physical complaints
  • Threats to harm self or others
  • Sexual acting out
  • Threats to run away
  • Marked change in sleeping habits (sleeps too much or too little)

LIFENET, the City’s free information and referral hotline for mental health and alcohol/substance abuse services that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week is available in many languages:

  • English: 1-800-LIFENET (1-800-543-3638) or Call 311 and ask for LIFENET.
  • Spanish: 1-877-AYÚDESE (1-877-298-3373)
  • Chinese: Asian Lifenet (1-877-990-8585)
  • Other languages: 1-800-LIFENET
  • TTY (hearing impaired): 212-982-5284

Get help for Depression – A Take Care New York Priority

Getting help for depression is one of the 10 priorities of Take Care New York – the City's health policy. Depression is a serious public health issue and if left untreated depression can tragically lead to disability and suicide. For more information on depression, please visit