More U.S. kids in hospital for mental illness

(Reuters Health) – American kids are increasingly likely to be admitted to the hospital for mental problems, although rates of non-psychiatric hospitalizations have remained flat, a new study shows.

From 1996 to 2007, 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,” said Joseph C. Blader of Stony Brook State University of New York, whose findings appear in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

He said 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 told Reuters Health.

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

For adolescents, the rate increased from 683 to 969 per 100,000, while it went up from 921 to 996 for adults and dropped from 978 to 808 for people 65 and older.

The change for the elderly was expected, Blader said, because of cuts in Medicare reimbursement for inpatient hospitalizations.

For youngsters, bipolar disorder showed the steepest increase, while anxiety diagnoses dropped.

Although there have been concerns about overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder and other mental problems among children, Blader said that was unlikely to be hiking the rates.

That’s because hospitalizations are based on whether or not people are considered a danger to themselves or others, not on psychiatric labels.

“Most typically it’s volatile and aggressive behavior, or overreaction to minor provocations that lead to assaults on family members or peers,” Blader told Reuters Health.

There was also a decline in the proportion of hospital stays paid for by private insurers. But whether that reflects a growing quality gap in mental health care or is a consequence of increased government coverage is unclear.

“There is no way these kinds of data are going give you the answers on a silver platter,” Blader said.

He believes the rate hikes are real and alarming and says now is the time to study the underlying reasons.

“Whereas before we had hoped that more outpatient services would lead to a decrease in hospitalizations, the findings suggest a pressing need to learn what might have reversed that trend,” Blader said.

SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, online August 1, 2011.


One response to “More U.S. kids in hospital for mental illness

  1. william wallace

    Because of a USA 24 / 7 media brainwashing / the
    people don’t form opinions the majority just swallow
    the media spin / in regard to the international stage
    as the domestic agenda ////// people having little say.

    It be added that a decade of republicans in govt but
    brought the nation unto its knees. / banking fraud at
    such a massive scale it brought an banking collapse
    adding to that republicans declared / a holy christian
    crusade against muslims /resulting in many hundreds
    of thousands of deaths // untold suffering destruction.

    In coming to govt BARACK / HILLLARY all democrats
    faced a awesome task getting / nation back on track.

    People so brainwashed in the material arena // means
    they have little progress in the spiritual arena // where
    brainwashing // has but stopped spiritual development.

    Thus for the american people a situation where mental
    illnes but thrives where it can /only but grow grow grow.

    The madia need to be given their freedom / in allowing
    truth being told. Thus not only better a worldly situation
    but bringing freedom for further / spiritual development.

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