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Improving Children s Mental Health

Improving Children’s Mental Health

By Kristine Goodwin and Jennifer B. Saunders| Vol . 22, No. 2 / January 2014

NCSL NewsMental health conditions among children are under-treated and on the rise, according to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. One in five children experiences a diagnosable mental health disorder (such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism or Tourette syndrome), but only 21 percent of diagnosed children receive needed treatment.

Mental disorders burden individuals, families, schools and communities. Elementary school children with mental disorders are more likely to miss school and are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their peers. Approximately 50 percent of affected high school students drop out of school. Children with one mental disorder often experience other mental disorders or chronic medical conditions, and they have an increased risk of mental disorders continuing into adulthood, which can have life-long negative effects on quality of life, physical health, relationships and productivity.

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