Children ages 8 to 18 should undergo screenings for anxiety, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended Tuesday via a statement published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Though there is no specific recommendation for the number of screenings children should go through, the health panel said repeated screenings “may be most productive in adolescents with risk factors for anxiety.”
Anxiety disorders among children and teens are linked to an increased likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder or depression in the future, the health panel said.
The task force’s suggestion comes after studies continue to confirm students are struggling with ongoing mental health issues that have likely only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a survey of 3,200 parents released Monday by the nonprofit Child Mind Institute, 40% said their child’s mood declined during the global health crisis due to issues like anxiety and heightened stress. Additionally, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released in March found more than a third of high school students reported experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic.
Even before the global health crisis, the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommended in 2019 that schools provide cognitive behavioral therapy programs to lessen depression and anxiety symptoms among students considered to be at increased risk for developing these conditions. The task force called for targeted programs delivered by trained school staff, such as mental health professionals, teachers and nurses, along with nonschool psychologists or social workers.
More recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced in October it is accepting applications for two grant programs totaling $280 million to improve mental health supports for students. Funding for the grants comes from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and FY 2022 annual appropriations.