Healthcare

Children as young as 8 should be screened for anxiety: US task force

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New guidance from a leading panel of experts on health in the U.S. says that children as young as 8 should be screened for anxiety.

The recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says that children between the ages of 8 and 18 should be examined for anxiety and that minors between the ages of 12 and 18 should be screened for depressive disorder.

The task force also noted that the increased level in anxiety rates and the wide availability of screening tools means regular screening of anxiety should also be happening for for children between the ages of 12 and 18.

The task force said untreated anxiety can have significant physical impacts in the short term, including headaches and stomachaches, and in the long term can lead to poor academic performance and developmental delays.

The guidance follows a rise in mental health struggles reported in kids and teens, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children’s hospitals recorded nearly 38 percent more emergency department visits for mental health cases and almost 54 percent more suicide and self-harm cases in the third quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, according to the Children’s Hospital Association. 

More than a quarter of U.S. parents surveyed in a poll released last month reported that their child had seen a mental health specialist during the pandemic.

Tags anxiety Anxiety disorders child mental health children's mental health Depression Mental health Mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic teen mental health

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