The US Preventative Services Task Force, which is appointed by an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued draft guidance this week recommending that all adults under age 65 be screened for symptoms of anxiety disorders.
The panel made a similar recommendation for children and teenagers earlier this year. COVID accelerated an already widespread mental health crisis, with the prevalence of anxiety and depression increasing by 25 percent globally during the first year of the pandemic. The panel’s recommendations are not mandatory, but carry strong influence over primary care physician practices. Draft guidance will be finalized in the coming months after a review of public comments.
The Gist: Policymakers and providers are right to respond to the population-wide increase in anxiety and depression brought on by COVID, and regular screenings will surely help quantify the scope of a problem we’re now facing.
However, given our nation’s undersupply of behavioral health practitioners, widespread screenings are likely to unleash a flood of demand that traditional providers will struggle to meet. Given virtual care’s staying power in the behavioral health space, we hope that the inevitable wave of mental health diagnoses will be matched with innovative care models designed to treat this growing issue at scale.