- About 1 in 7 US children aged 2–8 years has a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder, such as anxiety, learning problems, or attention-deficit/
- Kids who have these disorders and live in rural areas face personal, financial, and neighborhood challenges more often than those who live in urban areas.
- Rural children and their parents might need additional support from states, healthcare systems, and primary care providers—here’s how to help them thrive.
Data & Statistics
Mental, behavioral, and developmental health of children aged 2 – 8 years
Parent-reported information from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health showed that 1 out of 7 U.S. children aged 2 to 8 years had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder (MBDD). Many family, community, and health-care factors were related to the children having MBDDs.
- Children with the following characteristics were more likely to have a MBDD:
- Children age 6 to 8 years
- Non-Hispanic white children
- Children were more likely to have a MBDD if they were from
- poor families (those living at less than 100% of the federal poverty level) and
- families that spoke English in the home
Mental health of children aged 3 – 17 years
The first mental health report that describes the number of U.S. children aged 3–17 years who have specific mental disorders used data collected from a variety of data sources between the years 2005-2011. Analysis of the data showed the following results:
Children aged 3-17 years were identified as having a current diagnosis of
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (6.8%)
- Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
- Anxiety (3.0%)
- Depression (2.1%)
- Autism spectrum disorder (1.1%)
- Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)
Adolescents aged 12–17 years were identified as having a current diagnosis of
- Illicit drug use disorder in the past year (4.7%)
- Alcohol use disorder in the past year (4.2%)
- Cigarette dependence in the past month (2.8%)
Suicide, which can result from the interaction of mental disorders and other factors, was the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 12–17 years in 2010.
Data sources for mental health and related conditions
There are many different datasets which include information on children’s mental health and related conditions for children living in the United States.
The ADDM Network provides data on the proportion or percentage of 8-year-old children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities in different communities in United States.
NHANES assesses health and nutritional status through interviews and physical examinations. Collected data covers conditions, symptoms, and concerns associated with mental health and substance abuse, as well as mental health service use and need.
NS-CSHCN assesses whether children with special health care needs have medical homes, adequate health insurance, and access to needed services. Data include report of emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders, as well as mental health service use and need.
WISQARS is an interactive database system that provides customized reports of injury-related data.
- Perou R, Bitsko RH, Blumberg SJ, Pastor P, Ghandour RM, Gfroerer JC, Hedden SL, Crosby AE, Visser SN, Schieve LA, Parks SE, Hall JE, Brody D, Simile CM, Thompson WW, Baio J, Avenevoli S, Kogan MD, Huang LN; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mental health surveillance among children – United States, 2005—2011. MMWR Suppl. 2013 May 17;62:1-35.
- Bitsko, RH, Holbrook, JR, Kaminski, J, Robinson, LR, Ghandour, R, Smith, C, Peacock, G. Health-care, Family and Community Factors associated with Mental, Behavioral and Developmental Disorders in Early Childhood – United States, 2011-2012. MMWR. 2016 Mar 11; 65(9);221-226