Kids Count Data: Mental Health Issues Above National Average, Violence Rates On The Rise

Feb 15, 2016

Credit Kids Count Data Center / http://datacenter.kidscount.org/publications

MENTAL HEALTH  

The Indiana Youth Institute’s annual Kids Count Data Book is out Monday and much of the information focuses on the health of Hoosier kids.

In Indiana, five percent of kids have been diagnosed with serious behavioral problems, four percent with anxiety and three percent with depression. All those rates are higher than the national average.

Forty percent of mental health problems are first diagnosed in adolescence, and Indiana Youth Institute’s Interim President and CEO Glen Augustine says access to psychiatric care is a major problem for many young Hoosiers.

“If you look at children ages 12-17, one in ten of them are having at least one depressive episode a year but only a third of them are getting the help they need,” Augustine says.

Indiana averages one mental health provider for every 750 people. And in some counties, the ratio is one for every 14,000 residents.

Board Chair for Mental Health America of Indiana Steve Viehweg says there’s a push to identify problems as early as possible through local doctors, clinics or other providers.

“Which I think will help them improve that issue of workforce,” Viehweg says. “Where are the resources for families to get help? Where the kids are.”

The state does provide mental health services for low-income Hoosiers. In 2014, The Division of Mental Health and Addictions provided care for more than 50,000 children.  

YOUTH VIOLENCE

It’s becoming increasingly dangerous to be a child in Indiana. The Kids Count report on the state of Hoosier kids shows more violence among young people.

Youth violence seems largely concentrated in Indiana’s more populated areas, around Gary, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

The Indiana Youth Institute’s annual Kids Count shows one in 10 parents say their kids are growing up in unsafe neighborhoods – with rates much higher among Hispanic and black parents. That means dangerous walks to school and less time for kids to play outside.

The number of homicide victims under 19 years old doubled from 2012 to 2013. Teenagers committing murder rose in 2012 and 2013, after two years of declining.

Gang membership may be one cause. It’s up 11 percent among teens – many being recruited at age 14. Nearly a fifth of high school students regularly carry a weapon.

Kids Count found seven in 10 kids have witnessed violence. Now a third of incarcerated juveniles are in prison for violent offenses.