What Has Gone Wrong When Children Are Anxious All the Time?

So, President Putin has invaded Ukraine.  In the U.S., with its increasingly therapeutic culture, there is a new recommendation to screen children for anxiety and depression.

Now, Putin’s “special operations mission” did not cause American children to lose their grip on self-confidence and optimism, but something did.  What does that say about Americans and their moral orientations over the past 30 years?

How does one build a moral capitalism where, today, tomorrow’s leaders are anxiously self-absorbed?

Here is the report from the Wall Street Journal:

Children as Young as 8 Should Be Screened for Anxiety, Experts Recommend

Draft guidance underscores pandemic’s toll on adolescent mental health

By Brianna Abbott
Apr. 12, 2022

All children should be screened for anxiety starting as young as 8 years old, government-backed experts recommended, providing fresh guidance as doctors and parents warn of a worsening mental-health crisis among young people in the pandemic’s wake.

The draft guidance marks the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has made a recommendation on screening children and adolescents for anxiety.  The task force, a panel of independent, volunteer experts that makes recommendations on matters such as screening for diabetes and cancer, also reiterated on Tuesday its 2016 guidance that children between ages 12 and 18 years old should be screened for major depressive disorder.

More than one-in-three high-school students reported experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic through June 2021, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of more than 7,700 students.  About 44% said they had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness within the 12 months before the survey.

A survey of primary-care physicians found that 76% believe in the importance of talking to adolescent patients about mental health but that only 46% said that they always brought it up with their patients, the task force said.

Screening children for anxiety and other mental-health disorders is often done through questionnaires for patients or parents, often at regular checkups.  Some hospitals or medical centers also screen pediatric patients that come into the emergency room.  Mental-health and pediatric experts said the benefits of screening include flagging mental-health risks in children who might not exhibit symptoms or whose symptoms overlap with other conditions.

“Not only does that open the opportunity for interventions for the children, but it enables the parents to learn skills and strategies to respond to their kids’ anxiety that can be helpful in the long term,” said R. Meredith Elkins, director of the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., who isn’t a member of the task force.

Panelists who drafted the new mental-health screening recommendations reviewed 78 studies related to screening and treatment for anxiety, depression and suicide risk.  None directly compared the effectiveness of screening with the effect of no screening.  Instead, panelists analyzed the accuracy of screening tests as well as potential benefits and harms of treatment.

There wasn’t enough evidence to make a recommendation for or against screening for suicide risk among asymptomatic adolescents, a leading cause of death in the age group, the task force said.

In the CDC report on youth mental health in the pandemic, about 20% of surveyed high-school students said that they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the 12 months before the survey.