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Statistics  & Youth

What is happening with our children's mental  health? Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, causing distress and problems getting through the day. Among the more common mental disorders that can be diagnosed in childhood are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and behavior disorders.

Mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders begin in early childhood

1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.

Facts about mental disorders in U.S. children

  • ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children

    • 9.4% of children aged 2-17 years (approximately 6.1 million) have received an ADHD diagnosis.

    • 7.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavior problem.

    • 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety.3

    • 3.2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression. 3

  • Some of these conditions commonly occur together. For example:

    • Having another disorder is most common in children with depression: about 3 in 4 children aged 3-17 years with depression also have anxiety (73.8%) and almost 1 in 2 have behavior problems (47.2%).

    • For children aged 3-17 years with anxiety, more than 1 in 3 also have behavior problems (37.9%) and about 1 in 3 also have depression (32.3%).

    • For children aged 3-17 years with behavior problems, more than 1 in 3 also have anxiety (36.6%) and about 1 in 5 also have depression (20.3%).

  • Depression and anxiety have increased over time

    • “Ever having been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression” among children aged 6–17 years increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8% in 2007 and to 8.4% in 2011–2012.

    • “Ever having been diagnosed with anxiety” increased from 5.5% in 2007 to 6.4% in 2011–2012.

    • “Ever having been diagnosed with depression” did not change between 2007 (4.7%) and 2011-2012 (4.9%).

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

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