Satcher Addresses Mental Health ‘Crisis’ Among Children
One in 10 children suffer from mental illnesses "severe enough to impair development," prompting Surgeon General David Satcher to call the situation a "crisis," the AP/Washington Post reports. In a report to be released today, Satcher urges mental health training for physicians, teachers, welfare and juvenile justice workers, and improved access to children's mental health services. According to Satcher's report:
Incarcerated juveniles frequently have mental health problems that "went unnoticed or untreated until too late";
Satcher said, "If children can't learn, can't develop appropriately, then it's going to interfere with their whole life. Clearly it is a crisis." Last year, Satcher declared mental disorders a "major untreated problem" for children and adults, and his most recent report comes "amid a recent backlash" against overtreatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, the AP/Post reports. Noting that there is some overtreatment, Satcher said that "there are many children who could benefit from medications as well as behavioral treatment." Satcher added that Medicaid is currently developing community models for mental health services, and education departments are slated to work with health officials on mental health training. In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health this year increased funding for children's disorders by $33 million (AP/Washington Post, 1/3).
Meanwhile, a Mayo Clinic study released yesterday found that children with ADHD are more frequently treated for non-behavioral problems such as injuries, infections and asthma, and incur twice the medical costs of youths without the disorder. The nine-year study, published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, reviews the medical treatment of 4,119 children, 309 of whom had ADHD, USA Today reports. Mayo researchers found that 22% of children with ADHD had asthma, compared with 13% of children without the disorder; 77% of the ADHD children had been treated for minor injuries, compared with 70% of non-ADHD children; and 59% of children with ADHD were treated for major injuries, compared to 49% of children without the disorder (USA Today, 1/3). ADHD children incurred an average of $4,306 in medical bills over the nine-year study period, compared to $1,944 for non-ADHD children. The study was partly funded by Eli Lilly & Co., which is currently seeking regulatory approval for tomoxetine, an ADHD treatment (Reuters/New York Times, 1/3).