Lesson 1 of 7 - free your true Self to guide you

CDC Report Paints Bleak Picture of American Kids With
 Mental Disorders

by Eliza Shapiro, the Daily Beast, via Yahoo News - May 17, 2013

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      This recent research finding supports several main premises in this nonprofit educational Web site. See my comments after the article. The hilights below are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW

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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 depression.

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 to 17.

Peru says the CDC report is intended largely to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of mental-health issues in children that so often go untreated.

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 untreated.

“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 editorial@thedailybeast.com.


 Comments

      This research 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 reduce them.

      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 problems is an unseen cycle: Psychologically-wounded, unaware adults raise wounded kids, who grow up and pick each other as mates - and wound their kids...

      The 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 professional schools and the media not educating kids and adults on family systems and effective-parenting concepts.

      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."

      Lesson 6 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

This article was very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful 

  For related research summaries, see this.

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