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16 Warning Child Mental Health Statistics

By Blog

Mental health in children and adolescents is a serious issue worldwide. With modern challenges such as prolonged screen time, cyberbullying, and drug use affecting diagnosis numbers, it’s an issue that we can’t afford to ignore.

Mental illness in young people certainly isn’t anything new, but the medical community and society at large have begun to pay more attention to it. While child mental health statistics show that the present-day could be worsening youth mental health, it’s also possible to recognize and diagnose mental health conditions in children and adolescents more easily than ever.

If you are interested in how and why children are affected by mental illness, the following children’s mental health statistics are sure to be revealing.

Keep reading to find out some of the children’s mental health statistics in 2019 in the US and around the world.

Fascinating Children Mental Health Facts

  • Mental illness affects 10-20% of children and adolescents around the world
  • ADHD is diagnosed in 9.4% of American children aged 2-17
  • One in six children in the US aged 2-8 has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder
  • Self-harm is in the top five causes of death for adolescents worldwide
  • LGBT youth in the US are four times as likely to attempt suicide
  • Youth who spend 7+ hours per day using screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety (compared to those who use screens for one hour per day)
  • More than twice as many girls report cyberbullying compared to boys
  • 56% of people who receive treatment for substance abuse began using it by 14 years of age.

Keep reading to dive into these children’s mental health stats.

Child Mental Health Statistics (Diagnostics, Treatment, Causes, and Changes)

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the most important statistics about mental health for children and adolescents around the world today.

We will discuss mental illness statistics worldwide and how countries like the US compare to others. Here are some big numbers that might surprise you.

1. 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental health disorders worldwide.

Between one in ten and one in five children and adolescents around the world suffer the effects of a mental disorder. In fact, adolescent mental health statistics show that neuropsychiatric conditions are the primary cause of disability in young people worldwide.

How mental health is recognized, handled, and treated differs around the world too. Many young people may be undiagnosed for a long time, experience stigma, or perhaps never receive appropriate treatment.

2. About 50% of mental illnesses begin by the age of 14.

Mental health facts demonstrate that half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14. Not only that, but three-quarters of mental illnesses begin by the mid-20s. Various mental health conditions are most likely to be diagnosed during the late teens and early 20s. These include conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

With so many mental illnesses beginning in youth, it’s important to understand and analyze child mental health.

3. There is an identifiable individual or government entity responsible for child mental health in fewer than one-third of countries worldwide.

Although children’s mental health statistics show that mental health is a big problem, the awareness of this issue varies around the world. Fewer than one-third of countries have an individual or a government body that is solely responsible for child mental health programming.

Recognition and education relating to children’s mental health are lagging behind when compared to other health issues. However, research and statistics on learning disabilities is expanding, and many people are working hard to improve the situation.

Child Mental Health Statistics - girl

Youth Mental Health Stats in the US

Statistics show that some significant matters in the US include rates of ADHD diagnosis, adolescent depression statistics, and anxiety in children and teenagers.

4. About 6.1 million (9.4%) of children in the US aged 2-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.

High rates of ADHD in the US is sometimes treated as a joke. But with nearly 10% of children receiving a diagnosis, putting it at the top of the child mental disorders list, it is no longer a joke. ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) affects the ability to concentrate and includes symptoms such as impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

Along with child behavior statistics, anxiety, and depression, ADHD is among the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in children. America is known for its high diagnostic rates of ADHD. But how does it compare to other nations?

5. The rate of ADHD in Europe and countries such as Brazil and China is around 5%.

ADHD is diagnosed at about half the rate in other countries around the world. So does this mean that the US is overdiagnosing? Not necessarily. Higher rates in the US could have a few causes. It might be that certain factors in the US result in higher rates of ADHD, or it could be that other countries don’t address the issue at the same level.

6. 7.1% of children have diagnosed anxiety, and 3.2% of them have diagnosed depression.

Depression in children statistics shows that depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health conditions. In children, this is no exception. Anxiety affects approximately 4.4 million children aged 2-17 in the US, while around 1.9 million have diagnosed depression.

Between 2003-2012, the rates of children ever having been diagnosed with depression or anxiety rose from 5.4% to 8.4%. From 2007 to 2012, child anxiety rates rose from 5.3% to 6.4%, but the rates of depression diagnosis remained the same.

7. One in six children in the US aged 2-8 has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.

With one in six US children aged 2-8 (17.4%) having a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder, the numbers roughly line up with the child and adolescent mental health disorders worldwide.

This statistic also shows that mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders are often diagnosed early. However, depression and anxiety are more common in older children and adolescents, whereas behavioral disorders are more common in children aged 6-11.

8. 50.6% of children aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016.

According to child mental health statistics, just over half of youth diagnosed with mental illness have received treatment in 2016. That means almost half of them did not receive any treatment. While diagnosing mental health disorders is important, following up with treatment is vital. However, the average delay between the onset of symptoms and treatment is a huge 11 years.

Child Mental Health Statistics - children

Statistics on Suicide and Self-Harm

Self-harm and suicide are serious issues related to mental health in children. It’s important to consider them in the context of adolescent mental health. Let’s take a look at both worldwide and US child mental health statistics.

9. Self-harm is among the top five causes of death for both boys and girls.

Self-harm is the second most common cause of death for girls aged 15-19, with 9.4 deaths per 100,000 of the population. It’s the third most common cause of death for boys aged 15-19, with 8.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

In comparison, there are 9.9 deaths per 100,000 girls due to maternal conditions. On the other hand, 25.3 boys per 100,000 die in road accidents, while 14.3 die due to interpersonal violence.

10. 17.2% of high school students in the US experience serious thoughts of suicide.

High school students report serious suicidal thoughts at four times the rate that adults do – 17.2% compared to just 4.3%. Furthermore, 11% of adults aged 18-25 experience serious suicidal thoughts, which means over 50% more high school students report suicidal ideation.

11. LGBT youth in the US are four times as likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.

Student’s mental health statistics show that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide. In fact, 47.7% of LGBT high school students experience serious suicidal thoughts each year.

There are various things at play in these statistics. The stigma surrounding LGBT issues and identities and bullying contribute to the large difference between mental health issues in lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and their straight peers.

Child Mental Health Statistics - adolescent

Contributing Factors

Many things can contribute to child and teen mental illnesses. Some of them include the following.

12. 56% of people who receive treatment for substance abuse started using it by the age of 14.

When drug use starts before the age of 18, there is a higher risk of developing drug dependence. According to research, 56% of people who receive treatment for substance abuse started using drugs by the age of 14, while 92% began by the age of 18.

13. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more than twice likely to have symptoms of depression.

Around 31% of teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to feel depressed, compared to 12% of those who sleep regularly. Teenagers who get less than seven hours of sleep per night are 68% more likely to have at least one risk factor for suicide.

14. Teens using screens for more than seven hours a day are more than two times likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

Teenage anxiety statistics and depression stats are higher for teens who spend more than seven hours using screens. They are more than twice as likely to experience anxiety and depression compared to those who only use screens for an hour each day.

15. 22% of girls report cyberbullying, compared to 10% of boys.

Girls are more than twice as likely to report cyberbullying than boys. Social media has had a significant effect on child stress statistics.

16. 70.4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness.

Around three-quarters of young people in juvenile detention or otherwise in the juvenile justice system have a mental illness. This shocking statistic may be hard to swallow for some. Approximately 20% of these youth have disorders so severe that their ability to function is significantly impaired.

Various other shared traits can be identified in those in the juvenile justice system, which contribute to poor mental health. These include poverty, violence, and substance abuse.

Wrapping Up

Some surprising and shocking child mental health statistics there! These are some serious issues that we all have a responsibility to consider. Whether you’re a journalist, a doctor, a parent, or anyone else, these statistics are a reminder that we need to invest in the health of children and adolescents.

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