Student Well-Being

Health Update

January 17, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Surgeon General: Children’s Mental Health
In ‘Crisis’

Because one of every 10 children in the United States suffers some form of mental illness—yet only one-fifth receive medical care for their conditions—a report by the U.S. surgeon general is prodding the nation to confront this mental-health “crisis” before it gets worse.

“This report provides a blueprint for change,” the surgeon general, Dr. David Satcher, said in a prepared statement. “The burden of suffering by children with mental-health needs and their families has created a health crisis in this country. Growing numbers of children are suffering needlessly because their emotional, behavioral, and developmental needs are not being met by the very institutions and systems that were created to take care of them.”

Released in January, the surgeon general’s report, “National Action Agenda on Children’s Mental Health,” identifies several goals, including promoting public awareness of children’s mental-health issues, reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, and improving the assessment of children with mental-health needs.

The agenda marks the culmination of a series of activities over the past year, including the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health in September. The conference brought together 300 participants with interests in mental health, including parents and children, as well as professionals.

But improving the lives of children with mental-health problems will not be easy, said Dr. Real Muto, a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He said children’s advocates and caregivers are already aware of the issues in the surgeon general’s report, but they lack the political strength to effect real change.

Ted Feinberg, the assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists and a participant at the September conference, believes that lack of understanding is a barrier to political interest or action.

He also believes school systems need to do a better job of training educators to understand how mental health is linked to physical health and academic achievement.


The Cost of ADHD: Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to use medical services and to incur greater medical costs than children without ADHD Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to use medical services and to incur greater medical costs than children without ADHD, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The study, which followed 4,880 Rochester-area children for nine years, compared differences in medical treatment and costs for children with and without ADHD.

Between 1987 and 1995, the study found, children with the disorder were more likely to suffer major physical injuries (59 percent vs. 49 percent) and to have asthma (22 percent vs. 13 percent) than those without it. As a consequence, higher percentages of children with ADHD—26 percent, compared with 18 percent of children without the disorder—received hospital inpatient, outpatient, or emergency treatment.

What’s more, the study found, health-care costs for ADHD children were more than double those of children without the disorder—an average of $4,306 for ADHD children and $1,944 for non-ADHD children—for the nine years the children were followed.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder interferes with a person’s ability to regulate activity level, behavior, and attention to tasks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The institute says ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder; it estimates that 3 percent to 5 percent of children in the United States have it.

The Mayo Clinic study, published in the January 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, used records from the clinic, the Olmsted Medical Center, and Minnesota’s Independent School District 535 in Rochester to compile its results.


Slicing the Fat: School meals are now leaner and healthier, according to a U. S. Department of Agriculture report. From 1992 to 1999, the percentage of schools offering federally subsidized lunches that followed government nutrition guidelines for fat content improved from 34 to 82 percent of elementary schools and from 71 percent to 91 percent of secondary schools, according to “The School Nutrition Dietary Assessment-II,” which was released Jan. 10.

According to the report, the overall fat levels in school lunches dropped from 38 percent in 1992 to 34 percent in 1999.

—Vanessa Dea & Lisa Fine

A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2001 edition of Education Week as Health Update

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Teachers Want Parents to Step Up to Curb Cellphone Misuse. Are They Ready?
A program from the National PTA aims to partner with schools to give parents resources on teaching their children healthy tech habits.
5 min read
Elementary students standing in line against a brick wall using cellphones and not interacting.
iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Schools Feel Less Equipped to Meet Students' Mental Health Needs Than a Few Years Ago
Less than half of public schools report that they can effectively meet students’ mental health needs.
4 min read
Image of a student with their head down on their arms, at a desk.
Olga Beliaeva/iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Download How to Spot and Combat Student Apathy: A Teacher Resource
A guide to help teachers recognize and address apathy in the classroom.
1 min read
Student reading at a desk with their head on their hand.
Canva
Student Well-Being Social Media Bans Alone Won’t Improve Mental Health, Say Student Advocates
Students need safe spaces and supportive leaders to talk openly about mental health in their schools.
4 min read
Image of hands supporting one another. In the background are doodles of pressures, mental health, academics.
Laura Baker/Education Week with iStock/Getty