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Should Our Kids Be Screened for Anxiety?

5 1 0
14.05.2022

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft statement in April 2022 recommending screening for anxiety in children and adolescents between the ages of 8 and 18. This recommendation—which is still open for public comment—is timely, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health. The Conversation asked Elana Bernstein, a school psychologist who researches child and adolescent anxiety, to explain the task force’s new draft recommendations and what they might mean for kids, parents and providers.

Nearly 80 percent of chronic mental health conditions emerge in childhood, and when help is eventually sought, it is often years after the problem’s onset. In general, recommendations to screen for mental health disorders are based on research demonstrating that youths do not typically seek help independently, and that parents and teachers are not always skilled at correctly identifying problems or knowing how to respond.

Anxiety is the most common mental health problem affecting children and adolescents. Epidemiological studies indicate that 7.1 percent of children are diagnosed with anxiety disorders. However, studies also estimate that upwards of 10 percent to 21 percent of children and adolescents struggle with an anxiety disorder and as many as 30 percent of children experience moderate anxiety that interferes with their daily functioning at some time in their life.

This tells us that many kids experience anxiety at a level that interferes with their daily functioning, even if they are never formally diagnosed. Additionally, there is an established evidence base for treating childhood anxiety.

The opportunity to prevent potentially chronic lifelong mental health conditions through a combination of early identification and........

© The Daily Beast


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