Children’s Mental Illness Costs $247 Billion, U.S. Says

Children’s Mental Illness Costs $247 Billion, U.S. Says

Mental illness in children costs $247 billion annually, a figure increasing along with the number of kids hospitalized for mood disorders, substance abuse and other psychiatric disorders, according to a U.S. report.

As many as 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 years old has a mentally illness, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as the most prevalent diagnosis, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of children hospitalized for mood disorders increased 80 percent from 1997 to 2010, the report said, citing a U.S. study from that year.

The CDC report released yesterday draws on a number of U.S. surveys that collect data on children’s mental health. The Atlanta-based agency uses the report to mark the prevalence of the disorders and promote public health initiatives to treat and prevent them. Researchers found that suicide, often stemming from mental illness, was the second-leading cause of death in 2010 among adolescents ages 12 to 17.

“Millions of children in the U.S. have mental disorders that affect their overall health and present challenges for their loved ones,” Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, said in a statement. “We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders, and help scale up programs and strategies to promote children’s mental health so that our children grow to lead productive, healthy lives.”ADHD Increase

About 7 percent of children had ADHD, a syndrome in which people have trouble paying attention, act impulsively or are overly active. The prevalence of ADHD increased 3 percent each year from 1997 to 2006 in one survey; in another, there was a 21.8 percent total increase in 2007 from 2003. Autism increased as much as fourfold in 2007 compared with a decade earlier.

ADHD was twice as prevalent as conduct disorders, the next-most common mental ailment. Other widespread conditions included anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders and Tourette syndrome.

The report was released as a supplement to the CDC’s weekly publication, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report, and used combined data sources to survey the years 2005 through 2011. An estimated 13 percent to 20 percent of children in the U.S. experience mental illness annually, the authors found.

About 3.5 percent of children had behavioral conduct problems, marked by inappropriate, negative and aggressive behavior that occurs for more than 6 months at a time. Children with this disorder, “consistently ignore the basic rights of others and violate social norms and rules,” by harming people or animals, destroying property, lying and stealing, the report said.

Boys’ Conduct

Behavioral conduct problems were twice as common among boys as girls. The prevalence was similar regardless of whether the children were covered by insurance. However, it was more likely among poor and less-educated families, and more common in blacks than in any other group. That data came from a 2007 survey of parents by the National Survey of Children’s Health.

The third and fourth most prevalent mental disorders were anxiety and depression, affecting 3 percent and 2.1 percent of those in the report, respectively. These ailments often occur with other health conditions, and are associated with substance abuse, poor social skills, and can lead to difficulty in education, work, and family life.

A greater proportion of girls ages 14 and 16 were likely to be depressed than boys of the same age. White people were most likely to have experienced a period of depression in their lifetime or this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Lopatto in San Francisco at

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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