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ERIC Number: ED501386
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 95
Abstractor: ERIC
Youngsters' Mental Health and Pyschosocial Problems: What are the Data?
Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA
In many arenas, the demand for data has outstripped the availability of good data and has increased the tendency to grab for whatever numbers are being circulated in the literature. As a result, when someone says: "This is the best data available," it is essential to remember that "best" does not always mean good. This caution is particularly relevant in the mental health field where funding to support data gathering continues to be sparse and sound methodological practices are difficult and costly to implement. The intent of this report is to provide a synthesis of the best data on the prevalence and incidence of youngsters' problems and to clarify the limitations of what has been gathered so far. Because of the inadequacies of current data gathering, people must rely on subpopulation survey data and best estimates of mental health (MH) problems in schools, primary health care systems, and juvenile justice systems. The reality is that the primary sources for widely cited data on mental health and psychosocial concerns represent a relatively small body of studies, each of which makes an important contribution and, at the same time, the researchers are the first to acknowledge the limitations of the reported findings. This report is divided into three sections. The first section presents a sampling of statistical reports covering general surveys, special education data, juvenile justice data, and such specific problems as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, depression and suicide, and substance abuse. This section also presents excerpts from reports addressing cultural and economic influences on prevalence and service. The second section presents an in-depth analysis of key reports, examining how many young people are affected, how the data is commonly reported, whether rates are increasing, and whether the children are being served. The third section, "Concluding Comments," observes that data on youngsters mental health and psychosocial problems provide snapshots, but the pictures are for the most part fuzzy, so data must be used with critical care. Policy is needed that focuses on building a comprehensive system for gathering a full set of indicators that can be used to guide efforts to understand the nature and scope of youngsters' problems and as a report care on the well-being of the nation's children. (Contains 7 tables.) [For the 2005 report, see ED490009.]
Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA. Department of Psychology, Franz Hall, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563. Tel: 310-825-3634; Fax: 310-206-8716; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Numerical/Quantitative Data
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Office of Adolescent Health (DHHS/PHS)
Authoring Institution: University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Mental Health in Schools
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A