Surgeon General Urges Help for Mental Health ‘Crisis’ Among Children
One in 10 children suffers from mental illnesses "severe enough to impair development," prompting Surgeon General David Satcher to call the situation a "crisis," the AP/Washington Post reports. In a report to be released Jan. 3, Satcher urges mental health training for physicians, teachers, welfare and juvenile justice workers, and improved access to children's mental health services. According to Satcher's report:
- Less than 20% of children receive necessary mental health treatment;
- Pediatricians have difficulty referring mentally ill patients to specialists, who may have wait lists for up to three to four months, while some communities lack child mental health services entirely;
- Some children with emotional disorders do not receive school services until age 10, according to one study;
- Incarcerated juveniles frequently have mental health problems that go "unnoticed or untreated until too late";
- One juvenile detention center study found that two-thirds of offenders had a mental illness.
ADHD Linked to Injury Rates
Meanwhile, a Mayo Clinic study released Jan. 2 found that children with ADHD are more frequently treated for non-behavioral problems such as injuries, infections and asthma, and incur twice the medical costs of youths without the disorder. The nine-year study, published in the Jan. 3 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, reviews the medical treatment of 4,119 children, 309 of whom had ADHD, USA Today reports. Mayo researchers found that 22% of children with ADHD had asthma, compared with 13% of children without the disorder; 77% of the ADHD children had been treated for minor injuries, compared with 70% of non-ADHD children; and 59% of children with ADHD were treated for major injuries, compared to 49% of children without the disorder (USA Today, 1/3). ADHD children incurred an average of $4,306 in medical bills over the nine-year study period, compared to $1,944 for non-ADHD children. The study was partly funded by Eli Lilly & Co., which is currently seeking regulatory approval for tomoxetine, an ADHD treatment (Reuters/New York Times, 1/3).