business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The United States Preventive Services Task Force yesterday issued draft guidance that all US adults under the age of 65 should be screened for anxiety disorders, and all adults should be screened for depression.  These mental health conditions are seen as being far more prevalent in the US as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Wall Street Journal reports that this is "the first time that the United States Preventive Services Task Force has made a recommendation on screening adults for anxiety disorders. The move comes months after the task force issued similar draft guidance for children and adolescents … The task force said that there wasn’t enough evidence on whether or not screening all adults without signs or symptoms ultimately helps prevent suicide. The group didn’t recommend for or against screening for suicide risk, but called for more research in the area."

The Journal writes that "more than 30% of adults reported having symptoms of an anxiety disorder or depressive disorder this summer, according to estimates from the federal Household Pulse Survey. The percentage of U.S. adults who received mental-health treatment within the past 12 months increased to 22% in 2021, up from 19% in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The task force, the Journal writes, is a panel of 16 independent volunteer experts that "issues guidance on preventive-care measures. Health insurers are often required to cover services recommended by the task force under a provision in the Affordable Care Act."

Now, while this may not at first glance be seen as an Eye-Opening retail or business issue, the fact is that these people are company employees who may be struggling as a result of Covid-related circumstances.  They may not even know they're struggling, but lingering issues both physical and psychological may be affecting their ability to perform and capacity to be happy.  And that ought to matter to companies, especially those that prioritize the creation of cultures of caring, knowing that this can help their organizations be more productive and profitable.

Good doctors already are doing this.  I know that my doctor, over the past few years, has spent time during my annual checkups inquiring about my mental health.  (I assume she's doing this with everybody, and that it's not just me.)  But not everybody has a general practitioner who is attuned to these issues, and I hope that this task force recommendation will awaken more people to a growing problem that needs to be addressed.