Solving the Problem of Child Anxiety with Prevention – Why Wait?

At the present moment, more than six million children and adolescents are on the path to developing a future anxiety disorder based on symptom levels, impairment, and other risk factors that are both identifiable and modifiable, today.

In any given moment, 1 in 4 youth experience some form of anxiety that affects their ability to learn, experience joy, make friends, and develop confidence.

Despite being able to identify those at-risk and interrupt anxiety disorder development now and because of mental healthcare systems we have in place across the U.S. and globally, most of these youth won’t receive any sort of support until their anxiety has shifted from simply problematic to clinically diagnosable. Instead of intervening at the first signs of pain and suffering, we wait until the anxiety has become so severe it can be diagnosed by a clinician before we address it.

At the point of disorder, anxiety has permeated into every facet of life, preventing youth from achieving their goals, building relationships, succeeding academically, facing their fears, and becoming resilient, thriving adults. This in turn often necessitates treatments are complex, time-intensive, geographical difficult, and expensive, with insurance providers frequently declining mental health care solutions beyond medications. While medications are effective in reducing the negative impact of pediatric anxiety disorders, they are largely masking anxiety symptoms, come with potential, significant side effects, and are generally not intended (nor recommended) for long-term or permanent use.

Unfortunately, less than 25% of anxious youth will receive any effective care. Without early and effective intervention, out-of-control anxiety acts as a “gateway mental health problem,” laying the groundwork for the development of additional mental health disorders in adulthood.

When anxiety goes untreated, youth are:

  • Less engaged and responsive in the classroom
  • Have fewer friends and less overall social support
  • 2x more likely to be victims of bullying
  • 3x more likely to drop-out out of school
  • Can experience a 30% decline in grades and test scores
  • Have 5x more school absences
  • 10x the risk for developing depression, self-harm, suicidality, substance abuse problems, and delinquency in late adolescence and early adulthood

Even among those that fortunate to receive care, only 40 to 60% of youth will fully recover from their anxiety disorder, with that number falling 10% year over year.

And possibly worse yet and despite our best efforts and abilities, there is currently no known cure for anxiety among children or adults. This is because anxiety is a core feature of human experience and, much like happiness, sadness, or anger, it is a normal emotion that we can’t get rid of (completely) or cure.

The consequences of untreated child anxiety costs $400,000+ annually PER SCHOOL

This number is calculated based on student attendance, performance, and administrative action required to discipline and support students.

What if we didn’t wait help youth until they were already suffering because of chronic anxiety? What if we didn’t wait until the pain caused by chronic anxiety is not only felt by youth, but also their loved ones? What if we didn’t wait until addressing the problem of chronic anxiety was a near impossible challenge, putting out fire after fire of struggle and suffering, hoping it’s enough to make lasting impact?

What if we didn’t wait to address the problem of chronic anxiety until its already a problem?

Anxious youth do not need to become anxious adults.

While there is no cure for anxiety…

…there is prevention.

We can intervene at the first signs of pain and suffering in childhood and early adolescence, before anxiety has a chance to shift from moments to disorder, from “I feel anxious” to “I am anxious”

Through prevention, we can increase immunity to future anxiety disorder development by reducing risk and enhancing confidence, courage, and resilience, today.

The solution is prevention.

Our approach is COMPASS for Courage.

Do you want to address youth anxiety more effectively?

Evidence-based intervention to teach youth anxiety-management skills in schools, private practice, or community clinics

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