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HEALTH3.B Emotional and behavioral difficulties: Percentage of children ages 4–17 with serious or minor emotional or behavioral difficulties who received services by type of service, 2001–2019

excel icon HEALTH3B Excel Table
excel icon HEALTH3B Standard Error Excel Table

Type of servicea 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019b
Serious difficulties
Current use of special education services for an emotional/behavioral problem 22.2 24.3 22.7 22.9 20.0 22.5 26.4 24.5 26.0 25.7 27.9 28.8 22.8 30.3 33.9 35.0 32.2 31.1 39.9
Parent contact with a general doctorc during the past 12 months about child's emotional/ behavioral problem 37.8 39.3 39.2 35.4 34.3 38.0 40.3 36.0 34.1 35.5 39.7 36.4 42.9 43.6 49.0 48.4 45.9 37.5
Parent contact with a mental health professionald during the past 12 months about the child 43.8 46.6 44.5 50.7 50.0 43.6 52.3 51.3 45.3 49.3 53.4 53.5 54.6 54.3 57.4 58.2 58.8 56.3 51.1
Minor difficulties
Current use of special education services for an emotional/behavioral problem 5.4 4.6 4.6 5.5 4.8 4.8 6.7 7.1 7.2 6.0 5.5 7.8 10.5 7.5 8.3 8.9 7.3 7.0 11.9
Parent contact with a general doctorc during the past 12 months about child's emotional/ behavioral problem 11.1 12.6 10.0 12.4 10.7 9.2 11.8 11.8 13.6 11.0 12.4 15.0 17.3 16.3 13.1 16.5 13.9 15.5
Parent contact with a mental health professionald during the past 12 months about the child 15.0 16.9 15.9 18.5 15.7 16.9 19.9 21.8 22.9 18.5 21.6 24.2 20.1 21.6 23.7 24.3 22.5 24.1 21.4
— Not available.
a A child who had more than one type of service or contact was included in more than one row.
b In 2019, the NHIS questionnaire was redesigned and other changes were made to weighting and design methodology. Therefore, data for 2019 are not strictly comparable with data for earlier years. For more information on the 2019 NHIS redesign, see https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/EReval202009-508.pdf.
c A general doctor was defined as a doctor who treats a variety of illnesses, such as a doctor in general practice, pediatrics, family medicine, or internal medicine. This percentage was calculated among all children ages 4–17 with emotional or behavioral difficulties. Due to the NHIS questionnaire redesign in 2019, data for this measure are no longer available.
d A mental health professional was defined as a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker.
NOTE: Emotional or behavioral difficulties of children were based on parental responses to the following question on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire1 in the Sample Child Survey: "Overall, do you think that (child) has difficulties in one or more of the following areas: emotions, concentration, behavior, or being able to get along with other people?" Response choices were (1) no, no difficulties; (2) yes, minor difficulties; (3) yes, definite difficulties; and (4) yes, severe difficulties. Children with serious emotional or behavioral difficulties are defined as those whose parent responded "yes, definite" or "yes, severe." These difficulties may be similar to but do not equate with the Federal definition of serious emotional disturbance, used by the Federal government for planning purposes. Children with minor emotional or behavioral difficulties are defined as those whose parent responded "yes, minor difficulties."
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.
1 Goodman, R. (1999). The extended version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire as a guide to child psychiatric caseness and consequent burden. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 791–799.