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Kansas City Star: Rates of depression, anxiety are rising among KC kids

By Natalie Wallington

Children’s Mercy has found that mental health is a growing problem among youth in Kansas City, and that accessing health care is getting more difficult for local families. Hunger, housing instability and other factors related to poverty are also taking a toll on kids’ health across the metro. 

Children’s Mercy publishes an assessment of community health needs once every three years. The lengthy report listed data gathered from 1,250 local families and hundreds of community health care experts.

Children’s Mercy researchers found that the percentage of local children who experience either “fair” or “poor” mental health has been steadily climbing over the past 10 years. In 2012, only 6.9% of children ages 5 through 17 experienced these low mental health ratings. Now, that number has more than doubled to 14.3%. 

Diagnoses of depression among the same age group have jumped from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.1% in 2021. Anxiety diagnoses have spiked even more significantly, from 8.1% to 25.6% over the same period.

Experts say that these increases aren’t just a result of greater mental health awareness. 

“Certainly the slow decline in [mental health] stigma allows people to feel more comfortable coming forward,” said Dr. Sarah Soden, Children’s Mercy’s director of developmental and behavioral health. “But also, the actual anxiety and depression manifesting in children and teens is on the rise.”


Read the full article via The Kansas City Star

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