Nearly half of kids with mental disorders go without treatment, study finds
If your child broke an arm or had a nasty bout of pneumonia, you’d probably visit the doctor. But a new study from researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health finds that only 55% of kids with a mental disorder sought professional treatment.
What’s more, that figure represents an increase in use of mental health services, according to a report being published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics.
The researchers wanted to establish a baseline on the prevalence of six mental health disorders affecting children and adolescents between the ages of 8 and 15. Using data from 3,042 kids who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they found:
- 8.6% had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- 3.7% were depressed
- 2.1% had conduct disorder
- 0.7% suffered from generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder
- 0.1% were anorexic or bulimic
- 13% of kids surveyed had at least one of these disorders, and 1.8% had two or more.
The researchers, led by Kathleen Merikangas of NIMH, found that mental disorders – especially ADHD – were more prevalent among kids with lower socioeconomic status. One exception was the category of anxiety disorders, which were more common among children of higher socioeconomic status.
Still, only 32% of those kids visited a doctor for the condition. Overall, African American and Mexican American children were less likely than whites to get treatment.
-- Karen Kaplan
Photo: U.S. scientists say more than 1 out of 10 kids suffers from some kind of mental disorder. Credit: Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune