USPSTF recommends anxiety screening for children

As an adolescent mental health crisis grows in the United States, the US Task Force on Preventive Services (USPSTF) has released a new draft guideline recommending that all children ages 8 to 18 be screened for anxiety.

A growing adolescent mental health crisis

Corresponding CDC According to data, the percentage of high school students reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased from 27.1% in 2004 to 44.2% in 2021. This increase was also seen among teens of all genders, races, ethnicities, and more .

“Increasing sadness among teenagers is not a new trend, but the acceleration and extension of a trend that clearly began before the pandemic,” said Laurence Steinberg, a psychologist at Temple University. However, he added: “We should not ignore the pandemic either. The fact that Covid appears to have worsened the mental health of teenagers offers clues as to what is really driving the rise in sadness.”

USPSTF recommends screening children for anxiety

To address the growing mental health crisis in children and adolescents, the USPSTF on Tuesday released draft guidelines recommending that all children ages 8 to 18 be screened for anxiety — one of the most common mental health disorders in the Childhood.

According to the working group, untreated anxiety can lead to physical impairments such as headaches and abdominal pain in the short term and to poor academic performance and developmental delays in the long term. In addition, a report by Institute for Children’s Spirit found that childhood anxiety disorders were associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, behavior problems, and substance use disorders later in life.

Martha Kubik, USPSTF member and professor at the School of Nursing at George Mason Universitysaid children should ideally be screened at their annual pediatric check-ups, but clinicians should also screen them at other visits whenever possible, even if they aren’t told any signs or symptoms.

“It’s critical to be able to intervene before a life is disrupted,” she said.

Stephen Whiteside, a child psychologist and director of the Pediatric Anxiety Disorders Clinic In the Mayo Clinicsaid it was “really important” to screen more children for anxiety because “[m]Most children who need mental health care don’t get it.”

Overall, if more children and young people in need are identified, it “could begin to put pressure on many of the decision-makers and people who hold the purse strings,” said Carol Weitzman, the co-director of the Autism Spectrum Center at the Boston Children’s Hospital and a spokesman for American Academy of Pediatrics. “We must shine a spotlight on the mental health needs of children, youth and adolescents in this country and advocate for better access to mental health care.

What is driving this increase?

writing for The AtlanticDerek Thompson outlines four factors that may be driving the current adolescent mental health crisis, including:

1. Social Media Usage: For example, research has found that about a third of teenage girls who use Instagram said the app made them feel worse, while other research suggested this University of Cambridge found that social media was strongly associated with poorer mental health in girls aged 11 to 13 and boys aged 14 to 15.

2. Decreased Social Interaction: Decreased social interaction, particularly during the pandemic, likely affected feelings of loneliness and sadness in adolescents, Thompson writes. For example a CDC The report found that teens who didn’t feel close to or connected with people at school during the pandemic were more likely to report poor mental health and persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

3. An Increasingly Stressful World: Fears about the pandemic, climate change, and other global issues likely increased teens’ feelings of stress, which then had a negative impact on their mental health, Thompson writes. “I think it’s an accumulation effect,” Steinberg said. “Every day it feels like there’s something else. It creates a very dark narrative about the world.”

4. Ineffective Parenting Strategies: Experts say there has been a rise in “accommodative” parenting over the years, with parents removing anything that might cause their children anxiety or discomfort – while children devote fewer activities to activities that give them a sense of competence, such as driving a car or doing chores . So, unless children learn to let go of negative emotions in the face of inevitable stressors or ailments, they will be more likely to experience anxiety as they get older. (Thompson, The Atlantic, 4/11; Hughes, New York Times, 4/6; caron, New York Times, 4/12; Prieb, The hill4/12)

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