The breakdown of 3 to 17 year old children goes like this: Out of the general population, ADHD accounts for 7%, behavioral and conduct disorders account for 3.5 percent, anxiety 3 percent, depression 2 percent, autism 1 percent, and Tourette’s 0.2 percent.
Among adolescents aged 12-17, 5 percent report having used an illicit drug in the past year, more than 4 percent admitted to using alcohol, and nearly 3 percent reported cigarette dependence.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among children aged 12-17.
"Millions of children in the U.S. have mental disorders that affect their overall health and present challenges for their loved ones. In addition, the financial costs of childhood mental disorders are at least an estimated $247 billion each year," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a news release. "We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders, and help scale up programs and strategies to promote children's mental health so that our children grow to lead productive, healthy lives."
As if these stats weren’t sad enough, there is virtually no effort whatsoever to catch mental health problems early or prevent them altogether. Our organization, Pursuit of Happiness, has been fighting behind the scenes with your schools and the stewards of your children to implement mental health checkups. But the schools have had virtually no appetite to implement a program like this into their schools. They tell us that “parents don’t want this” or “we’ll just be more aware.”
Right now 4 out of 5 children who have diagnosable mental health conditions are receiving no treatment whatsoever. Our society has our heads in the sand when it comes to mental illness.
Dr. Ruth Perou, the team leader for childhood development studies at the CDC had this to say. "The good news is that mental disorders are diagnosable and treatable. If we act early, we can really make a huge difference in children's live and in families' lives overall."
What can you do? Call or write to your school or school board or city council. Demand the school does the right thing. Pursuit of Happiness has a donation program where you can donate money so that qualifying families in need can receive free mental health services where they may not have previously had any opportunity to receive such services. Do something!
This fight will be lost unless the public begins to demand these types of programs. But the real losers will be our children.