Panel recommends adolescent screening for anxiety, depression

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended Tuesday that children and teens be screened for anxiety and depression — the first time the advisory panel has issued such a recommendation.

The move follows a push by Congress and the Biden administration to address youth mental health after data has shown an increase in mental health challenges for young people in recent years that was further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The task force, an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, advises that children 12 or older be screened for depression and children ages 8 and older be screened for anxiety. Both recommendations received a B grade and are finalized.

Under the 2010 health care law, most private insurance plans must cover recommendations that receive an A or B grade from the task force as a preventative service.

“The Task Force reviewed the evidence on screening for anxiety, depression, and suicide risk to provide primary care professionals with guidance on how they can help support the mental health of children and adolescents,” task force member Martha Kubik said in a written statement. “Fortunately, screening older children for anxiety and depression can identify these conditions so children and teens can receive the care that they need.”

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