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All College Students Should Be Screened For Anxiety
ONC Editorial

Jan 26, 2023

Based on recent reports, it would be extremely beneficial for overall community wellbeing to require Anxiety Screening tests for college students nationwide. (The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the individual author, whose information can be found below.)

Our response to new, stressful and dangerous situations is anxiety, but for some of us, this response can become overwhelming and crippling. Tension and bodily changes like high blood pressure are two major signs of anxiety. People who suffer from anxiety disorders may also experience intrusive thoughts or worries and may avoid particular situations out of fear. The COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most significant global catastrophes in centuries, has had significant effects on health systems, economics and civilizations. The mental health of people has been significantly impacted as a result of these health, social and economic effects. 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is a voluntary, independent group of specialists in evidence-based medicine and disease prevention from around the country. The task force develops recommendations for clinical preventive care based on the best available research in an effort to enhance the health of people across the country. According to a Draft Recommendation Statement on Screening for Anxiety in Adults published by the task force, all individuals under the age of 65 should be checked for anxiety. Although levels have now decreased, it was clear that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in anxiety and depression among young people. Adults between the ages of 18 and 44 had the lowest likelihood of receiving mental health care in 2019, but had the highest likelihood in 2021, according to CDC research. The findings indicate that in order to assist adults in coping with the financial, social and psychological strains of COVID-19, there is a need for expanded access to mental health services and other supports. However, if not told directly, people don't typically know what resources they need, simply due to a lack of education that exists across the country. 

Anxiety screenings are designed to aid in determining the degree of an anxiety disorder's symptoms. Significant impacts on community wellbeing could result from requiring anxiety screenings in addition to physical exams when applying to colleges and universities. With young adults being screened for mental illness, hospitals, universities and colleges could have the opportunity to provide certain students with necessary accommodations. 

According to a 2021 study by Boston College developmental psychologist, Rebekah Levine Coley, and economist, Christopher F. Baum, and, as quoted from a 2021 article by Ed Hayward for Boston College News, “Rates of mental health disorders were highest among young, less-educated, single parent, female, Black and Hispanic respondents.” With obstacles like systemic racism and low health literacy, many within underprivileged communities lack the proper understanding and resources when it comes to anxiety and mental health. With federal support, anxiety screenings and mental health discussions will become more common and can act as a catalyst towards ending mental health as a health disparity. 

A standardized screening is simply the first step, and although it isn’t sufficient to address the escalating mental health epidemic, it is nevertheless a step in the right direction. As more students become aware of the significance of mental health and learn about techniques to treat anxiety and other mental diseases, communities will begin to recognize its importance, helping students transition into adulthood. Additionally, there is a possibility that college students will perform better. Some students might not be aware that they have a mental illness, but with required screenings in institutions, students will be able to determine whether they have any anxiety or mental disorders and seek a number of resources, proper treatment and the specific accommodations needed to support their education.

To see all sources consulted/reviewed/interviewed for the purposes of writing this article and/or to learn more about this article's author, click HERE.

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