US Kids Hospitalized for Mental Illness Has Increased According to New Study

More children and adolescents are being admitted to the hospital today for mental problems a new study shows.

The study took data spanning ten years; from 1996 to 2007. It concluded that the rate of psychiatric hospital discharges rose by more than 80 percent for 5-13-year-olds and by 42 percent for older teens.

“This occurs despite numerous efforts to make outpatient services for the more vulnerable kids more widely available,” Joseph C. Blader of Stony Brook State University of New York told Reuters Health. His findings appear in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Blader also stated that hospitalization is the last resort, because it’s so disruptive for normal life.

“It’s a pretty traumatic thing for a family when your child is admitted to a psych unit,” he said.

Data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey showed that short-term hospital admissions for mental illness rose from 156 to 283 per 100,000 children per year over the ten-year study period.

The largest increase was for adolescents. The rate increased from 683 to 969 per 100,000. Most of these young kids were hospitalized for bipolar disorder and anxiety diagnoses dropped.

Are today’s teens being over diagnosed for bipolar disorder? A lot of people argue that this is the case. If your child has a mental illness how do you know for sure that it is something as serious as bipolar? I believe that it is important for parents to get a second opinion before they jump to conclusions about the mental condition of their child.

What the experts may tell you is a mental illness could very well only be a behavior issue that can be resolved by reducing your child’s stress and changing your parenting style. Ask yourself these questions:

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Is your child involved in too many extra curricular activities?
Are you giving your child too much responsibility and not enough space and time alone?
Do you yell at your child on a regular basis?

All of the above could lead to behavior problems that may appear to be a mental illness. Getting a second opinion, changing the way you treat your child and reducing the stress level in your home can change these statistics. What do you think is causing the increase in mental illness among US children today?

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  • Kat from California , August 5, 2011

    My daughter was in the Mental Health Hospital 2 times since Jan, 2011. She came to me and said Mom I need to go where there are other kids like me, meaning the ones that hurt inside. She showed me that she had been cutting too, telling her dad and I that she knows how to cut safely. She told me that at least 45% of the kids in her school cut. I had already signed her up for home schooling because she had been refusing to go to school. Well she was in the hospital for 8 days afterwards. It took a months to get the meds that worked for her. It is such a scary thing to go through. If you decide to contact me please contact me through my email

  • Cascia Talbert , August 5, 2011

    Kat, my prayers go out to you. I hope that the medication continues to help your daughter.

  • Anonymous , August 19, 2011

    With all due respect…you need to read the book “We've Got Issues” by Judith Warner. I have a 12 yr. old son who has been hospitalized for his anxiety and we struggle through each and every new thing (starting middle school, for example) with him. He threatens harm to himself and us, begs us to take him back to the hospital (not happening..they didn't do a thing for him..just billed our insurance for a week.) tells us he knows people love and care for him but it doesn't matter and he thinks he is a horrible person. He then wakes up the next morning and says he is sorry and doesn't know why he said all those things. We LOVE this child with our whole heart and soul…have 2 other kids that are happy, carefree and enjoy school, etc. My husband and I have a great relationship and are blessed to be financially stable.

    You may not have intended it, but your blog makes it sound like we could all stop medicating our kids and everything would be ok if we stopped yelling at them and reduced their activities and stress. I used to think like this too. No more. Parents of kids with mental health disorders are no different than parents of kids with juvenile diabetes, for example. We didn't DO this to our kids. Yes, we have to get help and learn how to help our kids and how to parent them effectively…absolutely. But please, please don't insinuate that we all just rush to putting our kids on medicine and getting them labeled. We don't. We have no choice. Trust me….I have tried everything. Yoga with him, parenting classes, radical changes to our diet, counseling for me, an herbalist and supplements for him. The only thing that has EVER made a positive difference for my kid is counseling and Zoloft.

    Check out the book….the media has sold a good story about how parents are rushing to overmedicate their children. It's a good byline…but not reality. I believe the truth is that many children who need help are not getting it. Mental illness is just that, an illness… not a sign of ineffective parenting.

  • SFJD , August 26, 2011

    Unfortunately, the people who should be in the best position to help mentally-ill children and parents are sometimes shockingly ignorant about mental illness.

    Social Services workers, in several jurisdictions, have shown as much.

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