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Mental Health Treatment, Diagnoses Up in Military Children

Mental health diagnoses, visits, prescriptions increased since 2003

WEDNESDAY, May 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Diagnosed mental health conditions, pharmaceutical treatment, and outpatient visits for mental health all increased among U.S. pediatric military dependents from 2003 to 2015, according to a study published online April 10 in Psychiatric Services.

Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman, M.S.W., Ph.D., from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed diagnosed mental health conditions, treatment, and psychiatric medication prescriptions among 1,798,530 children (aged 2 to 18 years) who were military dependents from 2003 to 2015.

During the study period, the researchers found that the prevalence of children with diagnosed mental health conditions increased from 9.2 to 15.2 percent (rate ratio, 1.04). There was a 20 percent increase per year in identified suicidal ideation prevalence, a 2 percent annual increase in mental health care visits, and a 3 percent annual increase in psychiatric medication prescriptions. Larger increases were seen among older children.

“These increases did not appear to be directly related to a parent’s deployment, since we did not see spikes in children’s mental health diagnosis, care, or pharmaceutical treatment during periods of increased deployment,” Hisle-Gorman said in a statement.

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