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Mental disorders on the rise among American children

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five American children live with mental disabilities and disorders including autism, depression and anxiety. The new report also indicated that mental disorders among American children are rising.

The study's author said that mental disorders affect children in all demographics and geographical locations. This was the first comprehensive analysis at children's mental health in the country's history. The CDC used data from many national surveys and research centers to reach its findings.

The most commonly reported mental disorder in children reported by parents was attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which affects about 6.8 percent of American children between the ages of 3 and 17, the study found. The next most-common mental disorder among children was behavioral or conduct problems, and the third most-common was anxiety and depression.

The author of the study said she hopes the findings encourage states to pay closer attention to mental disorders among children. Mental health services for children are reportedly lacking in several states. Early intervention is important because it can dramatically improve the outcome for these children, experts say.

Of course, it is not always easy for parents of children with mental disorders to pay for the best treatment available. Luckily, Supplemental Security Income is available to assist low-income families caring for children with mental and physical disabilities. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, certain requirements must be met, including:

  1. the child must not be employed and earning more than $1,000 per month in 2010;
  2. the child must have a physical or mental condition that results in "marked and severe functional limitations" that very seriously impair the child's daily activities; and
  3. the condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or must be expected to result in death.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "CDC: Mental disorders rising in children," Misty Williams, May 16, 2013

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