The latest data suggests that as many as one in five children suffers from some form of a mental disorder (in any given year). Overall, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that this equates to approximately 17 million young people meeting some criteria for various disorders that can affect the ability to behave, to learn, or to [analyze and] express their emotions.
Accordingly, providing all children with more access to mental health resources—as part of early education strategies—could play a major developmental role to help prevent or reduce the negative consequences of these issues later in life.
Indeed, Child Mind’s Institute senior director of the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center, David Anderson, explains, “It’s during childhood and adolescence where we have a large concentration of mental-health issues, and school is where many kids are spending a large portion of their day. That makes school the perfect place to focus mental-health resources.”
He goes on to say, “Waiting too long to pay attention to student mental health can easily lead to school dropouts or other problems later in life.”
As such, a recent study from sociologists at the University of California-Irvine surveyed approximately 900,000 children to find that those in foster care are seven times more likely to be report depression, five times more likely to report anxiety, and six times more likely to have behavior problems than other children in the general population. And this includes children who live in single-mother households and those who live with economically disadvantaged families.
In addition, foster kids are also three times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.
Study co-author Kristin Turney comments, “No previous research has considered how the mental and physical well-being of children who have spent time in foster care compares to that of children in the general population.”
The UC-I associate professor of sociology continues, “Foster care children are in considerably worse health than other children,” noting that the report also suggests that this, most likely, from having to endure maltreatment in addition to other risk factors like parental alcohol or drug abuse, poverty, and other neighborhood disadvantages that might have led to foster placement in the first place.
Turney also explains, “This is typically a difficult-to-reach population, so having access to descriptive statistics on their living arrangements, physical well-being and behavior provided an excellent opportunity to help identify the health challenges they face.”