Parents of about 15% of kids spoke to school staff or health care providers about their children's emotional and behavior problems in the last year, according to a survey released Wednesday, the first-ever to gauge the issue.
Nearly 1 out of 5 boys had parents who discussed such difficulties, and about 1 out of 10 girls, says the report from more than 17,000 parents with children 4 to 17 years old.
The survey, released by the National Center for Health Statistics, was done in 2005 and 2006.
There's no comparable earlier survey, but some children's mental health experts were surprised at the extent of concern, especially for boys – and divided as to whether it's a good or bad sign.
About 5% of children were prescribed medicine, mostly for attention-deficit disorder (ADHD), with another 5% receiving other treatment, such as therapy, alone or combined with medication.
The survey was done after pediatric use of ADHD medications and antipsychotics had skyrocketed, show figures from Medco Health Solutions, a large pharmacy benefit management company.
Antidepressant prescriptions dropped off after the Food and Drug Administration ordered tougher safety warnings about use of the pills by children in 2004.
For kids who do get counseling, 39% receive it at school, and 27% at their doctor's office, the survey finds.
Marilyn Elias, USA Today