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How many children have mental health needs?

The Surgeon General and SAMHSA report that as many as 1 in 5 kids has a mental health need. And of those, only 1 in 5 gets the treatment he or she needs.

In May 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Mental Health Surveillance Among Children — United States 2005-2011. Among the report’s findings:

  • A total of 13%–20% of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year (6,8–10).
  • Suicide, which can result from the interaction of mental disorders and other factors, was the second leading cause of death among children aged 12-17 years in 2010 (11).
  • In the United States, the cost (including health care, use of services such as special education and juvenile justice, and decreased productivity) of mental disorders among persons aged <24 years in the United States was estimated at $247 billion annually (6,12,13).
  • Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) estimates that between 117,592 and 143,724 Virginia children and adolescents have a serious emotional disturbance.

Why aren’t children getting the help they need?

  • Lack of mental health providers trained and available to help children
  • Limitation of insurance—both public and private
  • Fragmented, uncoordinated system
  • Regional variation in what’s available
  • Stigma of mental illness can make families and youth reluctant to seek help

What has the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health done so far?

  • Led efforts to secure millions of dollars in new state funding for child psychiatry and crisis response services in communities across Virginia. In state fiscal year 2017, the total allocated is $8.4 million; six years ago there were no funds for these services in the state budget.
  • Helped lead the effort to keep the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents (CCCA) open when proposed for closure. CCCA is the only state-run inpatient psychiatric hospital for children in Virginia and, as such, serves as the safety net for kids.
  • Fended off proposed cuts to the Comprehensive Services Act funding for kids. Now known as the Children’s Services Act, CSA is a major source of funding for mental health services for children with complex needs.
  • Cultivated champions in the Virginia General Assembly and mobilized thousands of citizens.