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Mental health disorders are the most common diseases of childhood

 |   |  Psychiatric data

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Courtesy of the Child Mind Institute

Mental health disorders are the most common diseases of childhood.

Of the 74.5 million children in the United States, an estimated 17.1 million have or have had a psychiatric disorder — more than the number of children with cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Half of all psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 14, and 75 percent by the age of 24.

In spite of the magnitude of the problem, lack of awareness and entrenched stigma keep the majority of these young people from getting help. Children and adolescents with psychiatric illness are at risk for academic failure, substance abuse, and a clash with the juvenile justice system — all of which come at a tremendous cost to them, their families, and the community.

This is a public health crisis that must be addressed.

  • The Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report brings together the most up-to-date information on child and adolescent mental health, based on findings from the most reliable and comprehensive studies. The report covers:

    • The commonness of childhood mental illness

    • The gap between illness and care

    • The cost to society of ignoring children’s mental health

    • The effectiveness of treatment

    We cannot deny that childhood mental illness is real and common. For millions of children, treatment can be transformative—but not nearly enough have access to care. Our nation must make a commitment to better training, robust research initiatives, and expanded public education efforts. Only then will we honor the promises we make to our young people.

    It is our hope that this report will spark conversations — from kitchen tables to the halls of Congress — so that many more children will get the help they need to live healthy lives.

About the Author

Chair of Mindyra Board of Advisors

Harold I. (Hank) Schwartz, M.D. is a nationally recognized psychiatrist, hospital executive, author and mental health advocate. He currently serves as Psychiatrist-in-Chief at The Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital and as regional Vice President of Hartford HealthCare. He is Professor of Psychiatry in the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry, Adjunct, in the Yale University School of Medicine.

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