Aug 9, 2022 - News

The kids aren't alright

Percentage change in the prevalence of anxiety and depression in children
Data: Annie E. Casey Foundation; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The percentage of Ohio children diagnosed with anxiety or depression jumped higher than most other states at the onset of the pandemic, per a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Why it matters: The mental health crisis among children and teens is considered a national emergency by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Ahead of a new school year and the stresses that accompany it, the report draws wider attention to an issue that's top of mind for many educators and families.

Driving the news: Nearly 1 in 8 Ohio kids received a diagnosis in 2020, up 42% from 2016 — the 10th-highest increase nationwide.

  • Ohio ranks 31st for overall child well-being based on economic, education, health and community measurements.
  • Alongside the report, the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio also released county and regional data on the underlying challenges children face including poverty, abuse, school absenteeism and a lack of health insurance.

What they found: Of the more than 300,000 children living in Franklin County, 1 in 5 live in poverty, a rate higher than most other Ohio counties.

  • Statewide poverty rates are highest among Black and Hispanic children.

The big picture: Ohio leaders have invested in a variety of programs to improve children's health in recent years, such as Columbus' CelebrateOne, dedicated to early childhood development.

What they're saying: "When children are emotionally and mentally well, they stand a better chance of staying healthy and being ready to learn," Tracy Nájera, state director of Children’s Defense Fund, said in a statement.

Yes, but: In his 2022 State of the Union address, Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledged that recent investments are "still not enough."

What we're watching: As kids return to classrooms this month, expect a renewed focus on supporting them beyond academics.


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