Many Kids with Mental Health Issues See Only Pediatricians
One in three children who were diagnosed and treated for mental health conditions on an outpatient basis saw their primary-care doctors for this care, a new study reports. Using data from a nationally representative survey, the researchers found that about 35 percent of children receiving mental health care in the past year had appointments only with their primary-care physicians compared with about 26 percent who saw only psychiatrists and 15 percent who saw only psychologists or social workers. To get a glimpse at who provides outpatient mental health services to children throughout the country and the types of diagnoses and medications prescribed, the researchers analyzed data from about 43,000 children in the United States ages 2 to 21 between the years 2008 and 2011. Among the findings:
- The study showed that about 74 percent of children with ADHD were prescribed a medication for this condition by their primary-care provider.
- Nearly 60 percent of kids with anxiety and mood disorders were put on medications by their primary-care providers.
- For both mental health conditions, primary-care providers were more likely to put children on mood-altering medications than child psychiatrists.