Children’s Health – More Children are Hospitalized for Mental Health Issues
Children’s health is an important issue for any parent. A 2014 study from the University of California, San Francisco has suggested that more than 4 million American children and adolescents have a mental illness. Mental health hospitalizations among that demographic also increased by 24 percent between 2007 and 2010. Since that study, this number has grown even higher. This trend is disturbing and also very important to analyze. Given the issues society already faces from adults with mental illness, including gun-violence, what can the future hold if this is not addressed?
The UCSF study examined mental health reasons for hospital visits in children. Another purpose of the study was to try to figure out other ways to allocate funding for mental health, and to use funding as best as possible. A long-term goal is to improve the quality of living for many impacted youth.
What did it find? Among other things, that depression, bipolar, and forms of psychosis are the most common conditions associated with hospitalizations. “According to the report, hospitals charge nearly as much for treating children who are hospitalized for depression – about $1.33 billion per year – as they do for the inpatient care of children with asthma – about $1.5 billion.” (U.S. News & World Report).
Dr. Naomi Bardach, a professor of pediatrics at the UCSF School of Medicine told U.S. News & World Report, “The most important finding is the fact that mental health hospitalizations are so common for kids.”
Children’s health dilemma: Almost 1 child out of every 10 who are hospitalized are diagnosed with a mental health problem.
Also, according to US News, children who have grown up during the Great Recession are believed to have higher odds of developing mental or emotional problems. This is based on findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Researchers found that children’s mental health status “declines as economic conditions deteriorate. This result is constant across nearly every subgroup we examine, including families least likely to experience job loss.” The study found that a 1.5 percentage drop in unemployment translates into a 7.4 to 10.4 percent reduction in children’s likelihood of developing psychological problems.”
In essence, the poorer a family is, the worse healthcare they receive, and the less likely they are to get treatment.
These findings show some serious flaws in our society, especially regarding children’s health. They also showed that minorities have a significant increase of mental health problems when compared to Caucasians, in children but also in adults. Dr. Bardach also told U.S. News & World Report, “Taken together in both the inpatient and outpatient settings, we’re not doing a good enough job of delivering mental health services to minority children.”
Many of those who were studied also showed substance abuse issues. The common belief is that they were not receiving the correct or proper treatment for their mental health issues, and turned to alternative forms of medication or substances to try to adjust. This finding of a higher ratio of substance abuse in adolescents with mental health issues does not come as a surprise to many mental health professionals.
US NEWS & World Report