Friday, May 17, 2013

CDC Issues Major Report on Mental Illness Prevalence in Youth

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a comprehensive report on the mental health of children over a seven-year period beginning in 2005, reports that 1 in 5 youngsters has a mental illness. The most prevalent mental illnesses among youth aged 3 to 17 were ADHD (6.8%), conduct disorders (3.5%), anxiety (3.0%), depression (2.1%), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (1.1%). The CDC also assessed substance use and found that 4.7% of these youth had an illicit drug use disorder in the prior year, 4.2% had an alcohol abuse disorder in the prior year, and 2.8% were dependent on cigarettes in the prior month. Among the more startling findings was that suicide was the second leading cause of death among youth aged 12 to 17. The CDC also found the prevalences of the disorders varied by race and ethnicity. The lowest prevalence of ADHD, for example, was found in Hispanic children, while behavioral or conduct disorders were highest among black non-Hispanic children, and ASD prevalence was higher among white non-Hispanic children.

These findings, which were derived from multiple federal health surveillance systems, show that mental and behavioral disorders "are an important public-health issue in the United States," the CDC said, "because of their prevalence, early onset, and impact on the child, family, and community, with an estimated total cost of $247 billion."  The CDC emphasizes that "more comprehensive surveillance is needed to develop a public-health approach that will both help prevent mental disorders and promote mental health among children."

Commenting on the new report, which was released yesterday, child and adolescent psychiatrist David Fassler, M.D., told Psychiatric News that the report's findings "will be very useful to parents, advocates, legislators, and regulators. The findings underscore the growing need for enhanced access to comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment services for children, adolescents, and families."

To read more about recent data on drug use and health, see Psychiatric News.

(image: Viacheslav Nikolaenko/


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