CDC Report: Mental Health Surveillance Among Children In The United States – 2005-2011

English: Logo of the Centers for Disease Contr...
 Logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
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“CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People”

How much do you know about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? For example, did you know that its roots date back to a wartime agency called the Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA)?  In 1946 the CDC had fewer than 400 employees with only seven medical officers and their main purpose was to wage war on mosquitoes. 

But that was then and now more than 60 years later almost daily the CDC impacts our lives. According to their website:

“CDC is globally recognized for conducting research and investigations and for its action-oriented approach. CDC applies research and findings to improve people′s daily lives and responds to health emergencies—something that distinguishes CDC from its peer agencies.”

CDC issues first comprehensive report on children’s mental health in the United States

On May 16, 2013, the CDC issued a new report, the first of its kind: “Mental Health Surveillance Among Children in the United States – 2005-2011.” It is a supplement to their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and it is the “first ever to describe federal effort on monitoring mental disorders, and presents estimates of the number of children aged 3-17 years with specific mental disorders.”  

Here are a few important facts from the report as described in the digital press kit provided by the CDC News Room.

  • Millions of American children live with depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome or a host of other mental health issues. 
  • ADHD was the most prevalent current diagnosis among children aged 3–17 years. 
  • Boys were more likely than girls to have ADHD, behavioral or conduct problems, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, and cigarette dependence whereas adolescent girls were more likely than adolescent boys to have depression or an alcohol use disorder.

How to utilize these numbers…

Over the next few days there will be many headlines and articles written about this report. Many articles will highlight that it appears that 20% of U.S. children and teens may suffer from a recognized mental disorder. It is important to remember that according to Medpage Today’s review: “The publication is the CDC’s first attempt to summarize the government’s wide-ranging survey data on mental health in children and adolescents.” Medpage Today went on to offer two action points:

  1. Note that this analysis of multiple large surveys and administrative datasets documented a higher-than-expected prevalence of mental health issues among U.S. children. 
  2. Be aware that, as some children may have more than one disorder, summing the prevalences of individual disorders likely inflates the total proportion of children suffering from mental health issues. 

Parents should always talk to their child’s health care provider if they have concerns about their child’s behavior at home, in school or with friends. Here is a helpful children’s mental health surveillance fact sheet.

Cottonwood Tucson provides mental health treatment for adults.

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