How significant is the impact of mental disorders in our children? To be quite truthful it is more than alarming, and the recently released research and publication by the United States Center for Disease Control has some significant findings. I thought I would list just some of the facts as stated by the report.
The CDC provides figures on children’s mental health
Up to 1 in 5 children (at least 7 million children) currently experience a mental health disorder, and the sense is that this number is increasing.
The cost for treatment, special education programs, juvenile justice and decreased productivity cost our country $257 billion annually. The rise in need for treatment has created a deficit in the capacity of our systems (a shortage of professionals and resources) to treat the number of problems encountered; therefore, only 21% of affected children actually receive treatment.
The rate of hospitals stays among children for mood disorders increased 80% from 1997 to 2010. There was a 24% increase in children admitted for in-patient mental treatment from 2007-2010. The report also found the use of psychotropic drugs by teens had increased over the same period.
Among children who died by suicide, the report found nearly 30% made their intent known before the act.
- 35.5 % had a diagnosed mental disorder when they died.
- More than one-in-four suicide victims were being treated for a mental disorder when they died, and
- 21% had made a previous suicide attempt.
- Roughly 4.2 million children ages 3- to-17 were diagnosed with ADHD.
- Nearly 2.2 million children have behavioral or conduct problems.
- Nearly 2 million have anxiety issues.
- Another 1.2 million children between ages 3-to-17 suffer from depression.
- Approximately 40% of children diagnosed with one disorder have multiple mental health disorders that can be linked to childhood criminal behavior, substance abuse and other risky behaviors.
Even though I recognize that statistics can sometimes be skewed, the sheer prevalence of mental disorders and consequences are just overwhelming. The systems in which our children exist or must participate cannot bear the load. We need a serious strategy to begin to equip our clinics, schools, families and communities to deal with such difficult mental health issues.
It is a sad and challenging set of circumstances no matter what the cause, and we have a significant responsibility to deal with such devastation among our children and teenagers. Each of us can and need to help diagnosed children and their families by supporting them in any way we can. We also need to be advocates for treatment programs that will help meet their needs.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Source: Center for Disease Control