8-Year-Old Children Need To Be Screened For Anxiety: Here's Why

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Amid growing mental health concerns due to the pandemic, experts say children eight years and older should be screened for anxiety.

A recommendation came down Tuesday (April 12) from the U.S Preventive Services Task Force urging children as young as eight to have anxiety examinations. The task force also recommended that minors between the ages of 12 and 18 be screened for depressive disorder.

Child psychologist Stephen P.H. Whiteside told New York Times that most kids who need mental health services, especially for anxiety, are "slipping through the cracks."

Untreated anxiety can have big physical implications in the short term and long term developmental impacts, according to the task force. Headaches, stomaches, and poor academic performance could plague minors who don't get screened.

“It’s critical to be able to intervene before a life is disrupted,” Martha Kubik, member of the U.S Preventive Services Task Force, said.

The availability of anxiety screening tools has also increased, so minors should be examined regardless of whether a doctor has been notified of signs or symptoms, New York Times reports.

The new recommendation follows alarming reports of rising mental health issues in children, The Hill reports. According to the Children's Hospital Association, there were 38 percent more emergency mental health visits to children's hospitals in 2021 than in 2020.

Over 25 percent of U.S. parents said their child had seen a mental health specialist during the pandemic, according to The Hill. Children's hospitals have received double the amount of suicide and self-harm cases over the past year.

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