A panel of experts has now recommended that depression screening should be done on all youth, regardless of if they are actually showing symptoms of mental health struggles. Mental health in youth is something that needs to be taken seriously.
Despite the fact that these issues are spoken about more, there are still a lot of children who fall through the cracks, and do not get the help they need. When it comes to mental health, the key is diagnosing an issue early, because that is when treatment can be most effective.
The way they can catch these cases early is if children and youth are screened appropriately. According to Medical Xpress, a group of experts is stating that youth should be screened for anxiety and depression, because that can lower their risk for long-term mental health issues.
This idea was put forth by the US Preventive Services Task Force, and their complete recommendation can be read here. They recommended that all children between the ages of 8 and 18 years old should be screened for anxiety, even if they do not have any symptoms. They came to this conclusion following a review that looked at the potential harms and benefits of screenings.
One of the largest factors for instituting this screening is the fact that 80% of chronic mental health conditions start in childhood, and if they can be caught quickly, treatment will have better results.
Children and youths are not going to seek help on their own, when they may not understand what is happening, and parents/teachers are just not trained for diagnosing.
This screening would make sure nothing was being missed, and no child was slipping through the cracks when they really need the help.
They also came to the conclusion that 8 is the right age because previous studies have shown that anxiety is one of the earliest mental health problems to occur, and it usually onsets when a child is in elementary school.
They stated that (right now) there is just not enough screening instruments available to look for anxiety in children under 8, so they cannot recommend it at that age.
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health struggles, and if they are not treated properly, they can carry into adulthood, and this can bring some other health struggles as well as an inability to cope with the daily stressors of life.