We know that mental health is essential to overall health and well-being (WHO, 2001). However, as you read this, about 1 in 5 youth in the United States currently experience a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder. About half of all children have experienced a mental health problem (Institute of Medicine (IOM), 2009). These rates are similar worldwide: anywhere from 1 in 10 to 1 in 5 youth experiencing some mental health problem (Kieling et al, 2011).
In the US, mental disorders in children cost approximately $200 billion annually (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2009; Eisenberg & Neighbors, 2007). And then there are the non-financial costs to these youth, their families and their communities.
The early years of life set the stage for life-long mental health.
Half of all lifetime cases of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders begin by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24 (Kessler, 2005; IOM, 2009). Intervening early at the individual, family and community level can delay or prevent the on-set of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders (IOM 2009). Also, early diagnosis, followed by appropriate treatment, care and management can improve the health and well-being of individuals with mental disorders.
What are the most common mental disorders among children?
The most common mental disorders among children are anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and behavioral disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that ADHD affects 1 in 10 youth and that rates are increasing.
Given the prevalence, growing burden and potential for prevention, children’s mental health is a focus area for CDC and its federal, non-profit and private partners.
Here are some web resources for families, caregivers and health professionals: