Senior Research Associate
Children in the United States are experiencing a mental health crisis.
August 8, 2022
In 2020, 12% of U.S. children ages 3 to 17 were reported as having ever experienced anxiety or depression, up from 9% in 2016. This finding is among the key results from the 33rd edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual assessment of how children are faring in the United States and in each state.
Drawing on data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, the 2022 Data Book shows that children in the United States are experiencing a mental health crisis, with rates of anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels. The 2022 Data Book also describes the connections between mental health and four dimensions of child well-being, and it provides recommendations for addressing the ongoing mental health crisis among youth, including:
Members of PRB’s U.S. Programs staff have played an essential role in the production of the Data Book since its inception, providing feedback on the design and measurement of the KIDS COUNT index and compiling the data presented in the report.
The Data Book provides information about child well-being in the period prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic. Ten out of the 16 key indicators showed improvement, with improvements in all four indicators of economic well-being and three of four indicators of family and community well-being. Four indicators worsened. Three of these four indicators are in the health domain, showing significant challenges for children’s physical health. In addition to rising levels of anxiety and depression, the child and teen death rate increased to 28 deaths per 100,000 people ages 1 to 19—the highest rates seen since 2008. This increase reflects a rise in homicides and drug overdoses among children and adolescents. The 2022 Data Book also highlights persistent racial and ethnicity disparities and shows that children of color continue to face steep barriers to success.
The annual assessment of child well-being in the 2022 Data Book is based on the most recent data available (2020 data for most indicators) and documents key trends since 2010. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted reliable data collection for many key indicators. As a result, eight of the 16 indicators in the 2022 Data Book and KIDS COUNT index were compiled using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates instead of their traditional source of one-year estimates. Data for three of the key education indicators could not be updated due to delays in data collection.
The 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book may be accessed at aecf.org/databook. Additional tools, maps, graphs, and data on many more indicators of child well-being are available at the KIDS COUNT Data Center.