New study: Every fourth child in Bavaria with mental health problems

New report on mental health in children and adolescents
Bavaria's Minister of Health Melanie Huml presented the first report on mental health in children and adolescents in the Free State in Munich on Wednesday. According to this, every fourth adolescent in Bavaria is affected by psychological problems; in 2014 alone, more than 80,000 children were diagnosed with ADHD. According to Huml, the increase in treatments is also related to a change in awareness and expanded treatment options.

Comprehensive information on young people's mental health
The first documentation on mental health in children and adolescents was presented in Munich on Wednesday, in which for the first time the most common clinical pictures were highlighted and extensive data material from various sources was bundled. According to the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care, a report that is unique in Germany and that also contains information on local counseling and care services for those affected and also looks at particularly vulnerable risk groups. "We now have a comprehensive information base on the mental health of children and adolescents in Bavaria," said Bavaria's Minister of Health Melanie Huml, according to a message from the ministry.

Mental illnesses should not be taboo
This is also the main topic of health policy this year, the minister added. The aim is to ensure that those affected are helped at an early stage, "that is why mental illnesses should not be taboo," stressed Melanie Huml when the report was presented. This includes data from the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Bavaria (KVB), according to which a diagnosis of a mental disorder was available nationwide for around 470,000 children and adolescents in the second half of 2014. This is the equivalent of a quarter of young people under the age of 18 in Bavaria. The data apply to the approximately 90 percent of adolescents in the Free State who are in statutory health insurance, according to the Ministry.

However, these "disturbances" are not always dramatic, Huml emphasized to the "dpa". Because this would also include developmental disorders such as Impaired speaking and language or learning and reading difficulties counted. Accordingly, those affected often need “just support,” says the politician. However, the debate about what is "normal" and where a mental disorder begins is often carried out very emotionally in public. Huml further explained that the report should therefore also help to objectify the discussion.

Infants often suffer from developmental disorders
As the report shows, developmental disorders are the most common diagnosis among toddlers and preschoolers. Behavioral and emotional disorders become more and more important between the ages of 7 and 14, with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) accounting for more than half of the cases matters. In total, more than 80,000 adolescents in Bavaria were affected in 2014, boys three times as often as girls. A cluster of diagnoses and prescriptions was shown in a regional comparison in Würzburg. According to the authors, this could, on the one hand, mean that existing supply needs are better met than in other regions. On the other hand, the accumulation could also indicate that the presence of a disorder and its treatment are assessed differently by doctors in the region.

Depression also occurs between the ages of 15 and 17 years. In 2014, around 14,000 young people had this diagnosis, which was made by the pediatrician or family doctor in half of the cases, according to the study. A good 3,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 had to be hospitalized as a result of depression. About 10,500 adolescents were treated for an eating disorder, although in around 1,000 cases an inpatient stay was necessary here too. According to the report, this disorder primarily affects girls, of whom almost half feel somewhat or even too fat from the age of 13.

Young people smoke and drink less
In contrast, excessive alcohol consumption among adolescents has decreased significantly in recent years. According to the report, the number of hospitalizations due to alcohol poisoning has decreased, and the proportion of abstinent adolescents is increasing. Nevertheless, "8.1% of the ninth and tenth graders have a risky alcohol consumption, 0.6% have a high consumption." Boys show a "riskier consumption pattern" than girls.

Tobacco consumption is also declining. For example, the proportion of 15- and 16-year-olds who already have experience with smoking decreased from 2003 to 2015 from 77 to 55 percent. According to the information, about 15% of young people of this age smoke daily, with the proportion of smokers getting higher as the level of education declines. On the other hand, cannabis consumption has increased somewhat, with ten percent of 12 to 18 year olds reporting that they have had experience before.

Social attention has increased
Overall, the report shows that the number of treatments for mental disorders has risen sharply in recent years - but a change in awareness may also play an important role in this. “This is partly due to the fact that social awareness of this topic has increased significantly and that treatment options have also been expanded. This is positive because it helps to further destigmatize mental illnesses, ”said Huml, according to the ministry. (No)

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Video: Adolescent Mental Health: Early Intervention and the Youth Perspective (January 2022).