Mental health symptoms in school-aged children in four communities

A CDC study examined mental health symptoms in four different U.S. school districts. Based on the teacher and parent report, about 1 in 6 students have enough behavioral or emotional symptoms and impairment to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common, followed by oppositional defiant disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teachers identified boys, non-Hispanic black students, and students receiving free or reduced-price lunch more often as high risk for mental disorders than their peers in most sites, but there were generally no demographic differences in the percentage of students who met the criteria for a mental disorder based on parent report. The rates varied among the different sites. 

Schools, communities, and healthcare providers can use this information to plan for healthcare and school service needs of children and adolescents with mental disorders. Screening, identifying, and referring children and adolescents to effective treatments can help reduce and prevent the negative effects of mental disorders.

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