From the Journals

Treatment missing for U.S. children with mental illness



More than 16% of American children have a mental health disorder, and almost half did not receive treatment from a mental health professional in 2016, according to data from a national survey of parents.

Childrren with mental health disorders who did not receive care

Among the estimated 7.7 million children with a treatable mental illness, 49.4% did not receive needed treatment from a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker in the previous 12 months, Daniel G. Whitney, PhD, and Mark D. Peterson, PhD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, wrote in JAMA Pediatrics.

State-level data from the National Survey of Children’s Health show considerable variation from the national average. North Carolina had the highest prevalence of nontreatment at 72.2% and Washington, D.C., had the lowest rate at 29.5%. The prevalence of at least one mental health disorder was highest in Maine (27.2%) and lowest in Hawaii (7.6%), the investigators reported.

Four states – Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah – were in the top quartile for both mental health disorder prevalence and prevalence of children with a disorder who did not receive treatment, they noted.

“State-level practices and policies play a role in health care needs and use, which may help to explain the state variability observed in this study. Nevertheless, initiatives that assist systems of care coordination have demonstrated a reduction of mental health–related burdens across multiple domains,” Dr. Whitney and Dr. Peterson wrote.

SOURCE: Whitney DG et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2019 Feb 11. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5399.

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