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Mental Health Conditions Among School-Aged Children: Geographic and Sociodemographic Patterns in Prevalence and Treatment

Ghandour, Reem M. DrPH*; Kogan, Michael D. PhD*; Blumberg, Stephen J. PhD; Jones, Jessica R. MPH*; Perrin, James M. MD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: January 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 42–54
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31823e18fd
Original Articles

Objective: To explore geographic differences in diagnosed emotional and behavioral mental health conditions and receipt of treatment. Methods: Data are from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, a nationally representative, parent-reported, cross-sectional survey. Pediatric mental health conditions were identified using parents' responses to 3 questions regarding whether a health care provider had ever told them that their child had depression, anxiety problems, or behavioral or conduct problems. Parents also reported on past-year treatment or counseling by a mental health professional. State-level differences in condition prevalence were identified using unadjusted and adjusted prevalence estimates. Multivariate logistic regression assessed the odds of not receiving treatment by state and diagnoses. Results: Nearly 8% of children aged 6 to 17 years have ever been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and 5.4% have ever been diagnosed with behavioral or conduct problems. State-level estimates of parent-reported depression or anxiety varied from 4.8% in Georgia to 14.4% in Vermont, while prevalence of behavioral problems ranged from 3.2% in California to 9.2% in Louisiana. Nearly 10% of all school-aged children and 53.1% of those ever diagnosed with either condition type received past-year treatment. The odds of receiving past-year parent-reported treatment did not differ by state of residence with the exception of Louisiana and Nevada: children ever diagnosed had approximately 2.5 times the odds of not receiving past-year treatment in these states. Conclusion: The prevalence of parent-reported mental health disorders among children varies by geographic and sociodemographic factors, while receipt of treatment is generally dependent on sociodemographic and health-related factors.

From the *Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, Rockville, MD; †National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, MD; ‡Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

See related Commentary by Kelleher and Bridge on Page 75.

Received December 2010; accepted September 2011.

The views expressed are the authors' and do not necessarily reflect those of the Health Resources and Services Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Address for reprints: Reem M. Ghandour, DrPH, MPA, Office of Epidemiology, Policy and Evaluation, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 18-41, Rockville, MD; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.