In the United States alone, approximately 9.4% of children and adolescents between the ages of three and seventeen have an anxiety disorder, according to the CDC.
This amounts to about 5.8 million young people.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of anxiety among children has been rising over the past two decades. In 2003, just 5.4% of the youth population received a diagnosis; and by 2011, this rate jumped to 8.4%.
And new figures regarding the impact of COVID-19 on mental health are still surfacing– revealing that children and teens are suffering an anxiety epidemic even nearly three years post-pandemic onset.
This reality has forced the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to issue a new recommendation stating that all children and adolescents between the ages of eight and eighteen should undergo screening for anxiety disorders.
While this is a step in the right direction, though, the recommendation did not outline exactly how the screening should be carried out.
So, pediatric experts from the University of Cincinnati have actively researched the best approaches for screening children with anxiety disorders and connecting them with the care they need. Their study findings have since been published in JAMA.
Jeffrey Strawn, the study’s senior author, detailed how psychiatric disorders in children often go undiagnosed or untreated– even in the face of increased awareness and decreasing stigma surrounding mental health.
This means that appropriately screening for anxiety is crucial, and one of his first recommendations is to avoid using the age-old checklist of symptoms.