Pediatric Mental Health Surveillance IDs Scope of Public Health Burden

THURSDAY, Feb. 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Mental health disorders among children represent a significant public health problem, according to research published in the Feb. 25 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US diseases Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report.

Rebecca H. Bitsko, Ph.D., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the mental health of children in the United States from 2013 to 2019 using surveillance data from federal data systems.

The researchers found that based on data from 2013 to 2019, mental disorders began in early childhood and affected children with diverse sociodemographic characteristics. The most prevalent disorders diagnosed during this period among American children ages 3 to 17 were attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, each affecting between 9.4 and 9.8 percent of children. Overall, 20.9 percent of children ages 12 to 17 had ever experienced a major depressive episode. In 2019, 36.7% of high school students reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless in the past year, and 18.8% had seriously considered attempting suicide. According to parent report, 9.6 to 10.1 percent of children ages 3 to 17 had received mental health services and 7.8 percent of children ages 3 to 17 had taken medication for mental health problems in the past year. Among children ages 12 to 17, about one in four reported receiving mental health services in the past year.

“More comprehensive surveillance could help identify what mental health services, including treatment and prevention efforts, are needed and would be most effective for children with various disorders, risk and protective factors, and circumstances, so that public health interventions can be tailored to promote the well-being of all children’s mental health,” the authors write.

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