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Here are some facts and statistics regarding the state of child mental health in modern society:

Statistics on the prevalence of child mental health problems in the U.S.:

1. Approximately 1 in 5 children and adolescents display signs and symptoms of a defined emotional or psychiatric disorder during the course of a year. (National Institutes of Health, 2004)

2. Other research has found that about 33% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 have some form of emotional problem, and boys are four times as likely as girls to have difficulties. (Gormly & Brodzinsky, p. 302) Girls, however, become about twice as likely to suffer from depression after puberty.

3. According to one Surgeon General report, there are as many as 9 million children in America today who suffer form “serious emotional disturbances,” and 70% won’t receive any care at all. (Hylton, 2009) The National Alliance of Mental Illness estimates the numbers slightly lower, but this still amounts to around 1 in every 10 kids who live with a serious mental or emotional disorder. (Lopez, 2012)

4. A government survey found similar rates, stating that about 20% of school age children have a diagnosable mental disorder and that around 10% of these are serious and impairing mental illnesses, such as major depression and anxiety disorder. Fewer than 20% will receive treatment. (USDHHS, 1999)

5. A CDC study finds that 13% to 20% of American children age 3 to 17 experience mental disorders each year, and that rates have been increasing. (Bialik, 2013) This, however, excludes many conditions for which there is limited data, such as eating disorders and schizophrenia.

6. One in nine kids between the ages of 6 and 13 can be regarded as having some form of mental disability. (Wagner et al., 2002)

Trends in child mental health

7. According to worldwide surveys, American children are the unhappiest in the world, followed closely by British youth. Broken families and a lack of social support are cited as contributing factors. (Week, 2-13-2009)

8. Mental illnesses have been on the rise in modern societies over the last century. For example, 5-times as many high school and college students in the USA are dealing with anxiety and other mental health problems than people the same age who were studied during the depression era. (Healy, 1-12-2010)

9. The number of kids receiving special education services for physical, cognitive, learning, and other problems has doubled since fiscal year 1977 to an estimated 6.9 million (or roughly 11% of students overall). Cash strapped school districts are struggling to find funding to keep up with it. (Time, 9-25-2000)

10. A 2009 study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that use of antipsychotics in children rose 65% between 2002 and 2009, to 4.8 million prescriptions in 2009 from 2.9 million in 2002. (Wang, 8-22-2013)

11. The estimated annual price tag for treatment costs and related consequences of juvenile psychological disorders is around $250 billion. (Kluger, 2010)

More facts and statistics on mental illness among kids:

12. Half of all adult psychiatric mental illnesses begin by age 14. (Costello, 2012)

13. About 15% of parents of children ages 4 to 17 (1 in 5 boys, 1 in 10 girls) have spoken to either school staff or health care providers about their children’s emotional and behavioral problems in the past year. (Elias, 9-4-2008) So if you’re concerned, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. We guarantee you’re not alone!

14. Of those children who do get counseling, 39% receive it at school and 27% at their doctor’s office. (ibid)

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