A mental health survey completed in 2009 revealed several trends among children and teenagers in the United States. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was conducted the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control.
The survey tracked six of the most common mental disorders attributed to adolescents: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, depression, conduct disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The startling results indicate that many children and teens with mental health problems aren’t receiving appropriate treatment.
There were several interesting trends concerning which children potentially suffered from various disorders as well. In lower socioeconomic classes, parents and children were more likely to indicate problems with ADHD, while in the higher socioeconomic classes anxiety disorders were more common. Mexican Americans reported the highest incidence of mood disorders such as depression. Among males, ADHD was the most prevalent problem regardless of social status or ethnic background. Females suffered most often from depression. The percentage of children and teens overall who suffered from one or more of the six mental disorders researched was consistent regardless of socioeconomics or race.
Unfortunately, minority youth were less likely to seek help from doctors or mental health counselors, leaving them without treatment in many cases. This was despite the fact that most disorders were evenly distributed among various races. The survey indicated that roughly half of all children and teens with mental health issues did not receive treatment regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. Roughly 55% of children with a disorder consulted with a specialist, but a much lower 32% sought treatment if they had an anxiety disorder.
Researchers hope that the results of the survey can be used to discover ways to make mental health resources more available to children and teens. Treatment for most mental disorders is more effective if caught and treated early on.