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This recent research finding supports several main premises in
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The hilights below are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW
+ + +
Less than half
of American children and adolescents with mental disorders are getting
the treatment they need, according to a comprehensive new CDC
report, the first of its kind.
In the months after Adam Lanza killed 20 schoolchildren
and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, politicians and
civilians alike seemed able to agree only that the nation’s
mental-health system was in need of thorough examination and reform.
An early major piece of that puzzle was released Thursday by the federal
Centers for Disease Control, in the form of a comprehensive
report about mental disorders in American children and adolescents,
culled from years of data collection.
The study paints a bleak picture of
millions of American adolescents
struggling with mental disorders and found that less than half of those
children are receiving the treatment they need.
The CDC report is considered the first comprehensive offering of its
kind on mental disorders in American children. A significant percentage
of American children—between 13 percent and 20 percent, or about 1 in 5
children—experience a mental disorder at some point during their
childhood or adolescence, the report’s authors found.
An estimated $247 billion a year is spent on treatment for childhood
mental disorders. The CDC study incorporated several studies conducted
between 2005 and 2011, as well as new data.
“President Obama is asking [Secretary of Health and Human Services]
Kathleen Sebelius to bring a conversation about mental health to
communities all around the country,” Dr. Ruth Peru, one of the study’s
authors, told The Daily Beast.
The research shows just how much work must be done in diagnosing and
managing widespread mental disorders in children and adolescents that
often remain untreated into adulthood.
An estimated 4.2 million American children have attention deficit or
hyperactivity disorder, 2.2 million have behavioral or conduct problems,
1.8 million have anxiety disorders, and 1.3 million suffer from
Millions of American adolescents also struggle with substance-abuse
issues: 1.2 million have an illicit-drug-use disorder; 1 million have an
alcohol-use disorder; and 691,000 are dependent on cigarettes.
Six hundred seventy-eight thousand children have autism spectrum
disorders, and 99,000 have Toilette syndrome.
Peru says her team of researchers also found that ADHD, autism spectrum
disorders, and bipolar disorders in American children and adolescents
have increased over the last two decades, along with drug use.
Substance-abuse disorders, however, have not increased among children,
teenagers, and adolescents.
ADHD is the most prevalent current diagnosis in American children ages 3
Peru says the CDC report is intended largely to raise awareness about
the pervasiveness of mental-health issues in children that so often go
The study broke down gender differences in mental
disorders, finding that boys were more likely than girls to have ADHD,
behavioral, or conduct problems, and autism spectrum disorders. Girls
were likely to have depression or alcohol-abuse problems.
Boys between 12 and 17 were more likely than their female peers to
commit suicide, but suicide
is a major public-health problem for adolescents of both sexes. It
was the second-leading cause of
death for 12- to 17-year-olds, according to data from 2010.
The troubling data have researchers exploring ways for the federal
government to help keep track of the severity of various mental
disorders and encourage early recognition and treatment.
Peru says the CDC will continue ongoing collection of data about
mental-health issues in children and use that data to drive action and
treatment. The information comes largely from the children being
studied, as well as from their parents.
As part of the government’s effort to raise awareness about mental
disorders, Peru says she and her team are hoping to continue to produce
reports on mental health on a periodic basis.
She says the CDC has focused recently on the factors that influence ADHD
and hyperactivity in children, what behaviors are typically associated
with the disorders, and their effects on the overall health of children.
Suicide prevention is another top priority, Peru says, along with
preventing behavioral issues in toddlers and young children.
While a great deal of research is left to be done on children’s mental
health, Peru says the CDC
report is intended largely to raise awareness about the
pervasiveness of mental-health issues in children that so often go
“This report is a reflection of what’s happening in the nation as a
whole,” she says. “We’re finally opening a dialogue on mental health.”
Eliza Shapiro is a reporter for The Daily Beast, covering breaking news,
crime, and politics. Previously, she worked at Capital New York and
edited Columbia’s undergraduate blog, Bog.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at email@example.com.
summary is a classic example of professional and media
ignorance about children's "mental health."
It implies that
kids' psychological problems are individual, rather than
symptoms of significant family dysfunction.
The CDC researchers say many U.S. kids aren't getting appropriate
mental-health treatment. What they should say is: "Millions of American
parents aren't able to nurture their kids well enough, and
current public policy implicitly condones this."
The research spokesman says the study is meant to "raise
awareness" of the prevalence of mental problems in American
children. This stops well short of raising public awareness
of what causes such problems, and how to prevent and
My experience from 33
years of providing family therapy to over 1000 adults and
kids suggests that the main reason for a wide range of
personal, marital, and family
is an unseen cycle:
adults raise wounded kids,
who grow up and pick each other as mates - and wound
outdated century-old paradigm of Freudian psychoanalysis (i.e. individual
psychotherapy) still prevails, despite family therapy being
validated as an effective clinical modality 60 years ago.
This pervasive, toxic ignorance stems in part from lay and
and the media not educating kids and adults on
The idea of "bringing a
conversation about kids' mental health" to American
communities" is very worthwhile - unless it continues to
promote ignorance about the high need for - and value of -
family therapy as the best way to protect minor kids from
"mental health problems."
in this nonprofit educational Web site is about effective
parenting - which the best way to end the toxic cycle of
inherited [wounds +
unawareness]. - Peter K. Gerlach, MSW