20 percent of American children have mental disorders
Nearly 20 percent of children in the United States suffer from a mental disorder, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal agency’s investigation into childhood mental health found that it has been rising for more than a decade and now costs an estimated $247 billion a year in medical expenses, juvenile justice and special education. It’s the first national report on mental disorders among children from age 3 to 17.
Childhood mental disorders are defined as serious changes in the way children handle emotions, learn or behave. This definition encompasses a variety of conditions, including the most prominent condition among children: ADHD, which affects 6.8 percent of those under 17. Males are more likely to have ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome, cigarette dependence, behavioral or conduct problems, and anxiety. Girls are more likely to have depression or an alcohol misuse disorder.
Mental health has been found to be critical to overall health, and without treatment and early diagnosis, these conditions can lead to problems at school, home, and in developing friendships. For instance, earlier research has suggested that children with mental disorders were three times more likely to be identified as bullies.