Topic: Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent)

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent):

Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent) is defined by the CEBC as the treatment of youth with a diagnosis of a depressive disorder, or with elevated symptoms of depression as demonstrated by a standardized screening or assessment tool. Common symptoms may include persistent sad or irritable mood, loss of interest in activities, significant change in appetite or body weight, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, and/or difficulty concentrating.

The CEBC has evaluated only replicable programs that do not use medication as an essential component of treatment. The Pharmacological Treatments for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Disorders page has links to reputable organizations that list information on medications used to help treat children and adolescents with depression and other disorders.

  • Target population: Youth with a diagnosis of a depressive disorder or with elevated symptoms of depression as demonstrated by a standardized screening or assessment tool
  • Services/types that fit: Typically outpatient services - usually either individual or group, but occasionally family therapy or services also
  • Delivered by: Mental health professionals
  • In order to be included: Program must specifically target depression as a goal
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines depression related outcomes, such changes in symptom levels, behaviors, and/or functioning
Downloadable Topic Area Summary

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

Three Programs with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:

Six Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?

The Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent) topic area is relevant to child welfare because documented research shows that children who enter the child welfare system, particularly those that are removed from their home, experience a significantly higher rate of mental health problems, including depression than children in the general population. This is not surprising, and is likely the result of a number of contributing factors. These factors may include events that precipitated child welfare intervention including abuse, neglect, and abandonment, as well as factors associated with placement, including separation, loss, anger, and fear.

While the child welfare system has historically focused on the physical and safety needs of children, emerging practice within agencies across the country is to now take into account the emotional needs of children as well. Child welfare agencies along with mental health providers have come to recognize the need for timely, appropriate, and effective depression treatment services that support children and families in achieving successful outcomes. In addition, early assessment and timely treatment intervention have been recognized as playing a key role in ensuring successful outcomes for children. As a result, a growing number of new initiatives and programs are being implemented within California counties that support the delivery of an array of mental health services to children and families receiving child welfare services. These services range from mental health screening and assessment to individualized treatment for identified needs.

Additionally, there is heightened awareness among professionals that the delivery of children's mental health services must be carefully coordinated across child serving agencies to thoroughly address their complex needs. Whether children remain living with their parents or are placed outside the home, it is critical that all children in the child welfare system be screened and assessed. Moreover, parents and caregivers must be trained to identify early signs of mental distress enabling them to seek early intervention and appropriate care and treatment.

Marilynne Garrison
Division Chief, Community-Based Support Division

Topic Expert

The Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent) topic area was added in 2010. Amanda Jensen-Doss, PhD was the topic expert and was involved in identifying and rating any of the programs with an original load date in 2010 (as found on the bottom of the program's page on the CEBC) or others loaded earlier and added to this topic area when it launched. The topic area has grown over the years and any programs added since 2010 were identified by CEBC staff, the Scientific Panel, and/or the Advisory Committee. For these programs, Dr. Jensen-Doss was not involved in identifying or rating them.