Children living in poverty more likely to suffer from mental disorders: Study

Children living in poverty more likely to suffer from mental disorders: Study

For countries that boast of being the most developed economies, there is one problem that gnaws them persistently – the mental health of their children. Millions of children in America are suffering from some kind of mental disorder. This includes both who have been diagnosed with some psychological illness or those who have escaped the radar. While most parents scratch their heads wondering what is wrong with their children, the best method is to understand their children’s mental health and support them in combating the disorder in the best possible way.

Mental illnesses in children stem from various social, psychological and biological factors, with one of them being poverty. The impact of poverty, even in advanced industrialized countries, can be adverse considering the high level of struggle the child faces in day-to-day life. Children brought up in impoverished conditions tend to experience a host of challenges, including constant bullying, trauma and abuse, which results in manifestations of various psychiatric disorders and increased proclivity to engage in delinquent behaviors.

Need to mitigate negative environmental exposures

A recent study, titled “National Trends in Prevalence and Co-morbid Chronic Conditions among Children with Asthma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) focused on disorders like asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, occurring in children who are nurtured in poor economic conditions.

As part of the study, presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting during April 30-May 3, 2016, the scientists examined the data obtained from the National Survey of Children’s Health for 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2012. They looked for factors influencing these disorders by dividing the data on the basis of various social and demographic factors and found that there was a sharp rise in the number of kids afflicted with prolonged health conditions, with mental illnesses being more prominent among children living in abject poverty.

The study also highlighted that children being brought up under extreme poverty are more likely to be affected by chronic health conditions, such as asthma and ADHD. Moreover, kids afflicted with asthma and/or ADHD were two times more likely to suffer from other associated disorders like autism, delay in development, depressive behavior or epilepsy.

Lead author of the study Dr. Christian Pulcini said, “We need to be aware that poor children already are at greater risk of common childhood illnesses such as asthma, ADHD and autism often face even more medical conditions on top of these.”

“People living in poverty experience a greater concentration of risks such as environmental factors (including environmental toxins), poor nutrition due to food insecurity, lack of education on chronic medical conditions, toxic stress as well as reduced access to quality health care by way of insurance and transportation,” he added.

Another related report by the AAP titled “Poverty and Child Health in the United States” and published in the journal Pediatrics in March 2016 had called for universal screening of children during well-child visits.

Road to recovery

It is important to educate children about adapting to the frequent environmental and social changes that they encounter during their childhood days. The problem of mental illness is more profound in children than what most people think. Looking at the staggering figures of ever increasing cases of mental illnesses in children, it is imperative that parents seek advice of a certified medical practitioner about various treatment options for their children.

If you or your loved one is battling any form of mental illness, the Sovereign Mental Health Services can offer various mental health programs. Chat online with mental health experts today or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information about our state-of-the-art mental health facilities.

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