Children with Special Needs

Children with special health care needs comprise 13.9 percent of all children in the United States. 

An estimated 15 million of our nation's young people can currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Many more are at risk of developing a disorder due to risk factors in their biology or genetics; within their families, schools, and communities; and among their peers. However, it is estimated that only about 7 percent of these youth who need services receive appropriate help from mental health professionals.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) an estimated 1 out of 5 children experience or will experience mental health issues which affect their lives. Special needs children, to include those with chronic health issues, often deal with mental health issues. At times, mental health issues themselves are the special need.

In a recent study by the US Department of Health & Human Services, mental health issues (e.g., attention and behavior disorders) were second only to asthma as the top health problems in children with special health care needs, as reported by their families. More than one-third of children with special health care needs have a mental health problem.

Mental health has a complex interactive relationship with children's physical health and their ability to succeed in school, at work and in society. Both physical and mental health affect how we think, feel and act on the inside and outside. Children with special health care needs can sometimes: be sad and depressed, angry and irritable, anxious and worried, struggle with grief and loss, attention and concentration, have sleeping and eating difficulties, and be preoccupied and ruminate about the difficult circumstances of their own lives and the impact of their lives on the loved ones around them.

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