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ADHD Most Prevalent Disorder in Report on Mental Health of Children

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder leads the list of mental health issues captured in the first-ever report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intended to monitor the mental health of youth ages 3 to 17.

The report, which uses information compiled from several different monitoring sources, found that about 8 percent of the youth in this population had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, as reported by their parents. The next most-frequent mental health disorder was "behavior or conduct problems" at 3.5 percent, and anxiety at 3 percent.

The report found that 13 percent to 20 percent of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year (the varying percentages are because of the different sources of information,) and the disorders appear to be growing more prevalent. Mental health treatment has an estimated annual cost of $247 billion, which includes the cost of special education, use of the juvenile justice system, and decreased productivity.

The report noted what many parents and educators already know: Many of these disorders can be present at the same time. For example, ADHD, "oppositional defiance disoder," and conduct disorders often co-exist.

Knowing how often these disorders occur is the first step in targeting resources to assist families and communities, the report said. My colleague, Nirvi Shah, who covers school climate issues, has pulled out additional statistics from the report.

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