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Controversy plalgues school mental health screening

MIAMI (AP) -- Nearly a decade after federal health officials recommended universal mental health screenings for students, an Associated Press review of policies around the nation shows a fractured and underfunded approach with no requirements to provide services.

Screenings vary widely not only from state to state, but within each school district. There's no consistency on whether the schools screen, what age they screen and what they screen for. Treatments are also a hodgepodge.

Mental health problems typically start during adolescence and if left untreated can lead to substance abuse, school drop outs and difficulty maintaining steady jobs and relationships.

But universal screening could raise other issues. Some experts warn mass screenings will over-diagnose students and stigmatize them with a life-long label or uncover mental health problems that schools lack resources to treat.