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Rate of American Kids Having Mental Problems Increases

Psychiatric hospitalization for mental problems is becoming prevalent in American kids these days. According to Joseph C. Blader of Stony Brook State University of New York, the rate of psychiatric hospital discharges for kids aged 5 to 13 increased by over 80 percent, while older teens had a rise of 42 percent. Non-psychiatric hospitalizations, however, remain unchanged. “This occurs despite numerous efforts to make outpatient services for the more vulnerable kids more widely available,” Mr. Blader says. He adds that hospitalization should be the last thing on anyone’s mind because “[i]t's a pretty traumatic thing for a family when your child is admitted to a psych unit.” According to the National Hospital Discharge Survey, short-term admissions for mental problems increased from 156 to 283 per 100,000 children annually over a decade’s worth of research. The rate for adolescents went up from 683 to 969 per 100,000. The adult rates also rose from 921 to 996, while it dropped from 978 to 808 for people aged 65 and older. Mr. Blader observed that the steepest increase for youngsters was for bipolar disorder. “Most typically it’s volatile and aggressive behavior or overreaction to minor provocations that lead to assaults on family members or peers,” he adds. With these rate increases, Mr. Blader believes that these hikes call for further research as to what caused them. “Whereas before we had hoped that more outpatient services would lead to a decrease in hospitalizations, the findings suggest a pressing need to learn what might have reversed that trend,” he says.


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