What Can Be Done About the Children's Mental Health Crisis?

Common Kid Mental Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

The most prevalent mental health problem, affecting 13 percent of 9- to 17-year-olds. While all children experience some anxiety, severe anxiety -- extreme fear of social settings, school, or separating from parents -- requires medical treatment.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Five to 10 percent of children have this disorder, which is marked by trouble paying attention and concentrating.


As many as one in 33 children may be clinically depressed. The rate among adolescents is closer to one in eight. Kids who have depression may feel helpless and hopeless, but they are also irritable, lethargic, and moody, and often withdraw socially.

Learning Disabilities

About 20 percent of all kids have a learning disorder. These disabilities occur when the nervous system can't receive, process, or communicate information properly.

Disruptive Disorder

Children who have difficulty obeying rules and who act inappropriately in public may suffer from this behavioral and emotional disorder, which affects 10 percent of kids.

Eating Disorders

About 3 percent of teenage girls have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge eating.

Call to Action: Print out a form letter to send to your elected officials urging them to support mental health parity. Congress has taken some steps to require insurance companies to improve coverage of psychiatric care, but more action is needed. Your support can make a difference.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the May 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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