The Chicago Tribune/Reuters Health, August 4, 2011
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% for 5-13-year-olds and by 42% 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.