Up to one-fifth of US youth have mental disorder: CDC

WASHINGTON - As many as one-fifth of American children and teens suffer from a mental disorder such as anxiety or depression and the incidence of such ailments is rising, a study released Thursday said.

"A total of 13 per cent to 20 per cent of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year," according to the report examining the mental health of adolescents released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The data, reported in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), said mental problems among youth are "an important public health issue in the United States because of their prevalence, early onset, and impact on the child, family and community, with an estimated total annual cost of US$247 billion (S$308 billion)."

The study found that the most prevalent mental ailment was Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which was found in 6.8 per cent of the nation's youth, followed by behavioural or conduct problems (3.5 per cent); anxiety (3.0 per cent); depression (2.1 per cent); autism spectrum disorders (1.1 per cent); and Tourette syndrome (0.2 per cent.

The data, which was compiled between 2005 and 2011, found that suicide was the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2010.

The report showed that boys were more likely than girls to have certain mental health ailments, including ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, Tourette syndrome, and cigarette dependence.

Adolescent boys also were more likely than girls to die by suicide.

Adolescent girls, meanwhile, were more likely than boys to have depression or an alcohol use disorder.

The report called on health professionals to conduct "early diagnosis and appropriate treatment" to "better understand the impacts of mental disorders, inform needs for treatment and intervention strategies, and promote the mental health of children."