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

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Mental Health Treatment

Some children rely on medication for the treatment of mental or emotional health problems. However, these services may not be accessible to all children who need them. In 2007, the parents of 40 percent of children who needed treatment reported that it was not received.

Unmet need for mental health treatment varied by age, with younger children having higher rates of unmet needs. In 2007, 57.8 percent of children aged 2–5 years who needed mental health care did not receive it, compared to 42.2 percent of children aged 6–11 years and 33.7 percent of children aged 12–17 years. Hispanic children who needed treatment had the highest rates of unmet need (49.4 percent), followed by non-Hispanic Black children (46.0 percent). More than half of uninsured children who needed treatment did not receive it, compared to 36.6 percent of children with private insurance who needed treatment (data not shown).

Some children rely on medication for mental or emotional health problems. In 2007, 6.2 percent of children received medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other problems with emotions, concentration, or behavior. Multiracial children were most likely to receive medication (8.3 percent), followed by non-Hispanic White children (7.3 percent); children of other races, such as Asian/ Pacific Islanders and American Indian/Alaska Natives, were least likely to receive medication (2.5 percent). The use of medication also varies by insurance status. Children with public insurance were two times more likely than children with private insurance and almost four times more likely than children with no insurance to receive medication for ADHD, emotions, concentration, or behavior (data not shown).

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