May 9, 2015

by Fran Lowry

May 07, 2015

More than 17 million children in the United States have or have had a diagnosable mental illness, yet most are not treated, according to the first annual Children's Mental Health Report released by the Child Mind Institute (CMI) in New York City.

The fact that so many children are struggling with these debilitating and serious disorders without competent psychiatric care represents a very serious public health problem, Child Mind Institute President Harold Koplewicz, MD, told Medscape Medical News.

"In the US, 7 million kids under the age of 18 have asthma, 7 million have peanut allergy, and 200,000 under the age of 20 have diabetes. But 17.1 million children under the age of 18 have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric illness, so the common disorders of childhood and adolescence are mental illness. It's not mumps, measles, rubella, not asthma, it's certainly not peanut allergy," Dr Koplewicz said.

"What is most troubling is that less than 35% of these kids ever get help. So it's not a surprise that 70% of kids in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable psychiatric illness, and we are not just talking about symptoms, which affect 50% of the population under 18. If we are talking about serious debilitating illness, it's 22% of the population. This is absolutely, truly, a public health crisis," he said.

The full report is online at


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