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Amount of U.S. Children Receiving Mental Health Treatment at Record High

Amount of U.S. Children Receiving Mental Health Treatment at Record High

According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the amount of young children seeking treatment for mental health issues has risen 50 percent in the past 20 years, according to an article on

The research revealed that treatment is frequently sought for mild symptoms, prompting a worry of over-treatment through anti-depressants and stimulants typically prescribed in children diagnosed with ADHD.

"It turned out that in terms of sheer numbers, kids with milder problems accounted for much of the increase in mental health treatment. By 2012, about 4.2 million were in treatment—versus 2.7 million per year in the 1996-1998 period," the article said.

"According to [lead researcher Dr. Mark] Olfson, his findings suggest that kids with less serious symptoms account for a large share of young people getting mental health care—whether that means medication or 'talk therapy.'" Medication was revealed to be the more popular option of treating mental health issues for children. "Almost one-third of kids with serious impairments were on a stimulant, antidepressant or other psychiatric medication. The same was true for 6 percent of less impaired kids."

And by 2012, Olfson said, the amount of children with less serious issues being prescribed these kinds of medications increased.

But Olfson is quick to warn against drawing the conclusion that U.S. kids are over-treated because he says that there are many children with severe symptoms who receive no treatment at all. Olfson insists that mental health treatment as a whole needs to be addressed.

A recent government report revealed that one in ten children are diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD can severely impact a child's ability to focus and therefore learn, so addressing this problem has been a big concern of educators for some time now.

This concern may very well be the root behind mild symptoms easily receiving treatment, but can not be seen as an entirely positive occurrence because severe problems are somehow still less likely to be addressed.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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