This October, U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended for the first time that doctors screen children as young as eight years old for anxiety.
This panel of medical experts issued this guidance as part of the official final recommendations for mental health screening. The Task Force, in their final recommendations, also reaffirmed their position that primary care providers should also screen children as young as 12 years old for depression.
The increased focus on youth mental health should come as no surprise. The ongoing mental health crisis among young Americans is a serious epidemic and it’s only getting worse. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), around 5.8 million children have been diagnosed with anxiety and about 2.7 million have been diagnosed with depression, and these figures will likely only rise once more children are screened following this recommendation.
It should be noted that the rising trends in youth depression and anxiety were visible before the COVID-19 pandemic, as well. A study published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in March stated that from 2016 to 2020, the number of kids aged 3 to 17 diagnosed with anxiety rose by 29% and depression by 27%.
The recommendations for increased screening are not unique to children, either. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, also recommended for the first time that all adults 65 and under be screened for anxiety, though this recommendation for adults has not yet been finalized.
While experts have applauded this formalization of the recommendation for them, a number are pointing out flaws. For example, even if pediatricians opt to follow this guidance, experts note that the screening tools do not provide a diagnosis but only indicate if a child may need additional care. Another flaw is that there is a massive nationwide shortage of mental health professionals who are trained to help these kids. It remains to be seen if the industry will change to meet this new demand.
Despite any flaws, the recommendation is one to take seriously. Getting an idea of a child’s mental health at a young age will guide parents in making informed decisions for their health as well as developing coping skills early. Earlier this month, AZZLY® wrote about the importance of early prevention and education among youths to reduce substance use disorders (SUD). The same can be said for mental health conditions other than SUD, as intervening early and promoting a destigmatized view of mental healthcare can prevent more serious mental health crises later on.
At AZZLY®, we are grateful to work with mental health and addiction treatment providers who put evidence-based treatment practices into place every day. We support these providers with an all-in-one electronic health record (EHR), patient management (PM), and revenue cycle management solution called AZZLY Rize™. A “purpose built” EHR.
We developed AZZLY Rize with the input of mental health and addiction treatment professionals to create a system that truly served the needs of their healthcare specialty. AZZLY Rize is the ideal solution for both abstinence-based and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs, with the option to support Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) such as buprenorphine and methadone. Schedule a time to speak with an AZZLY Expert to see if AZZLY Rize could be right for you, or fill out this brief form to see some short demos. We are available any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 (888) 400-3201 to answer any questions.