U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Mental Health Treatment

According to parents’ reports, 5.3 percent of children aged 4-17 years received treatment for emotional or behavioral difficulties in the past year. This includes treatment, alone or in conjunction with medication, for difficulties with emotions, concentration, behavior, or being able to get along with others. Boys were more likely than girls to have received treatment (6.4 versus 4.2 percent), and older children (aged 12-17 years) were more likely than younger children (aged 4-11 years) to have received treatment (6.5 versus 4.4 percent; data not shown). Among those children who received treatment for emotional or behavioral difficulties, almost 60 percent were seen at a private practice, clinic, or mental health care center, while nearly 40 percent received treatment through their school. Another one-quarter of children who received treatment did so through a primary care provider, and fewer than 10 percent of children received treatment at some other type of place. (Parents could report more than one place of treatment.)

In 2005-2006, 5.1 percent of children aged 4-17 years were prescribed medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties in the past year. That includes the 4.4 percent of children who were reported to have been prescribed medication for the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Again, boys were more likely than girls to have been prescribed medication (6.6 versus 3.4 percent), and 12- to 17-year-olds were more likely to be prescribed medication than younger children (6.0 versus 4.3 percent; data not shown).

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