Only half of American teenagers receive treatment for mental
conditions such as conduct disorder and depression, according to a
survey of more than 3,000 youth.
Adolescents with ADHD are most likely to get treatment; those with
anxiety disorder are least likely. These and other findings, from a
survey funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health,
reveal the need to increase awareness about mental disorders in
"We need to educate parents, teachers and children to distinguish
between normal ups and downs of mood from clinically significant
disorders," says the study's lead author, Kathleen
This National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provides an
important glimpse into
mental health issues and care, she says.
Researchers tracked six mental disorders, including panic and
eating disorders. Thirteen percent of the youth met the criteria
for at least one of the disorders.
Merikangas says that number is likely higher because her study,
which was published in the journal Pediatrics, was limited in scope
and did not include followup interviews to track symptoms.
Still, the study provides some insight into the mental health of
Merikangas says most children with severe symptoms do receive
treatment. But she hopes that future development of a database
would include a range of symptoms to help adults understand mental
health issues and help them identify the need for treatment
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