2016 Children’s Mental Health Report
Mental Health Disorders Are Common
17.1 million young people have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.⁵ Put another way, one out of every five children in the US meets criteria for a major mental disorder.
Fifty percent of mental health disorders begin before age 14 and 75% before age 24, affecting the learning and school experience for all children.
These are disorders of childhood and adolescence that, if untreated, will have a marked effect on students’ ability to learn and function in the school environment. For instance:
- 75% of social phobia manifests by age 15
- 75% of separation anxiety disorder manifests by age 10
- 75% of oppositional defiant disorder manifests by age 14
- 75% of ADHD manifests by age 8⁶
Anxiety disorders like social phobia can make students twice as likely to drop out or fail a grade;⁷ ADHD, mood and anxiety symptoms and disruptive behavior at age 6 predict math and reading achievement at age 17;⁸ and combinations of mental health disorders (including substance abuse) are predictors for low levels of lifetime educational attainment.⁹
⁶ Kessler, R.C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K.R., Walters, E.E. Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(6):593-602. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593.
⁷ Stein, M.B.; Kean, Y.M. (2000). Disability and quality of life in social phobia: epidemiologic findings. American Journal of Psychiatry. 157(10): 1606-1613. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.157.10.1606
⁸ Breslau, J., Miller, E., Breslau, N., Bohnert, K., Lucia, V., & Schweitzer, J. (2009). The Impact of Early Behavior Disturbances on Academic Achievement in High School. Pediatrics. 123(6), 1472–1476. http://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2008-1406
⁹ McLeod, J. D., Uemura, R., & Rohrman, S. (2012). Adolescent Mental Health, Behavior Problems, and Academic Achievement. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 53(4), 482–497. http://doi.org/10.1177/0022146512462888