US Preventative Task Force (USPTF) Acknowledges Importance of Anxiety Screening
Increasing Rates of Anxiety
Mental health awareness is critical in establishing a national standard of recommendations and requirements for mental health care. In the past years, the prevalence of those with anxiety has grown, especially with the onset of COVID-19. In just the first year of the pandemic, there was a global increase of 25% in people experiencing anxiety (WHO, 2022). The hardships of living through the uncertainties of an unprecedented pandemic have only exacerbated the effects of anxiety and began to find its way into the lives of more people than ever before.
Anxiety Screening Recommended to All Under 65 Years Old
With the rise in those experiencing anxiety comes the urgent need for national acknowledgment of the issue and advocacy for anxiety prevention and management practices. This has come to fruition for the first time in the US as in the beginning of October, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) has announced that adults under the age of 65 should be screened for anxiety (Thomas, 2022). No official recommendation has ever been made; thus, this is a great step in achieving national standard for mental health care. As this is not a final recommendation, the public comment period will now commence, allowing for anyone to submit recommendations and other comments by the 19th of October. Allowing for a public comment period increases the conversation around the importance of anxiety screening and encourages the task force to understand the need for a formal screening requirement and what the public thinks would be helpful. The reality that many people who experience anxiety or another mental illness do not seek or receive care is concerning. The National Institute of Mental Health reported that only 43.2% of those with anxiety received care, which is far lower than the statistic should be (National Institute of Mental Health, 2022). By publicly stating the need for adults to be screened for anxiety the USPTF is paving the way to achieving greater recognition of the prevalence of anxiety in US adults and providing the recommendations and tools necessary to help those with anxiety.
Proper Tools for Anxiety Screening
In a recent CNN article reporting on the USPTF draft recommendations, current anxiety screening tools comprised of questionnaires and surveys were discussed as being an output of the draft recommendation. The article exemplifies the types of screenings available while refraining from recommending any specific tool. Once public awareness of the recommendation for everyone under 65 years old to be screened for anxiety is realized, the allocation of appropriate resources must be made. Patient Planning Services (PPS) has already created and licensed tools that screen for anxiety. MyCareReport, the platform licensed by PPS, launches open-source mental health assessment surveys, providing a comprehensive resource for clinicians to launch, store, and analyze mental health screenings. The flagship proprietary validated screener CancerSupportSource™ is launched in MyCareReport, and can assess the cancer patient or caregiver for distress, depression or anxiety. After the screener is completed, the real time, raw data is immediately exported and a personalized support care plan with information and referrals for support services is created to be emailed or printed. Providers receive a clinical report that includes a summary score of a patient’s results, including actionable clinical alerts to help staff triage a response. Patient Planning Services has licensed mental health screeners for cancer patients, pediatrics, caregivers, post-partum mothers, post traumatic stress, social isolation, anxiety, depression and more. Having a specialized questionnaire that screens for anxiety and depression in these populations creates a more targeted approach to mental health screening. The recent USPSTF draft recommendation emphasizes the importance of anxiety screening and will hopefully increase the number of people seeking mental health care. The tools that PPS has in their portfolio will facilitate the process of systematic mental health care management and contribute to the greater visibility of mental health resources.
Thomas, Naomi. “For the First Time, US Task Force Proposes Recommendation to Screen for Anxiety in Adults.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Oct. 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/20/health/anxiety-screening-uspstf-wellness/index.html.
“Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/generalized-anxiety-disorder.
“Covid-19 Pandemic Triggers 25% Increase in Prevalence of Anxiety and Depression Worldwide.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide.