Well-Being Mental Health

Anxiety screening recommended for kids 8 and up

A new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force states that “all youth aged 8 to 18 years are at risk for anxiety and should be screened.”
illustration of teens with backpacks from behind

Story at a glance

  • Mental health among children and adolescents is in crisis.

  • Last month, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended for the first time all adults under the age of 65 get screened for anxiety.

  • This month, the agency recommends all youth ages 8 to 18 get screened for anxiety.

Mental health among youth and adolescents is in crisis and nationally mental health is a crisis among adults, as well. For the first time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends anxiety screening for children and adolescents ages 8 to 18. 

Last month, the agency announced a draft recommendation saying all adults younger than 65 years old should get screened for anxiety. The document is open for public comments. 

The agency published a recommendation this week for youth and adolescents, stating that “this applies to children and adolescents 18 years or younger who do not have a diagnosed anxiety disorder and who are not showing recognized signs or symptoms of anxiety.” 

They provide further context for clinicians: 

“Although all youth aged 8 to 18 years are at risk for anxiety and should be screened, there are factors that increase the risk. Risk factors for anxiety disorders include genetic, personality, and environmental factors, such as attachment difficulties, conflict between parents, parental overprotection, early parental separation, and child mistreatment. Certain groups are also at increased risk, including LGBTQ youth, transgender youth, and older adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.” 

Some of the screening tests may include: the Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory for Children, Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (global anxiety and any anxiety disorder) and the Patient Health Questionnaire–Adolescent (generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder). 

The statement also notes that more randomized controlled trials are needed to understand the direct benefits and harms of screening for anxiety in this age group as well as the accuracy and effectiveness of screening tools. 

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