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Rate of children getting mental health care rises, study finds

Children were twice as likely to receive medical attention for a mental health condition in 2010 than 15 years earlier, according to a study by researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University.

They compared national survey data of children, teens, and adults from 1995 and 2010 and found that youth under age 20 who visited a doctor in 2010 were twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder compared to 1995. These conditions included ADHD and behavioral, anxiety, mood, and developmental disorders. The rate of mental health diagnoses among adults stayed relatively stable.

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The rate at which children and adults received medication for a psychiatric condition doubled over the period. The majority of children and adults in the study sought care from medical professionals other than psychiatrists, such as pediatricians or general practitioners. This suggests that such physicians are becoming more comfortable in identifying mental health disorders, the researchers wrote. The findings, however, may also signal the overuse of psychotropic medication among children and adolescents for minor concerns, they wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Children who saw a doctor in 2010 were twice as likely to receive mental health care than in 1995.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on survey answers, which may not be entirely accurate, and did not look into causes for the increase in treatment of mental health conditions.

WHERE TO FIND IT: JAMA Psychiatry, Nov. 27

PG-13 and R ratings have little difference in risky content

Teens are just as likely to see characters engage in violence and other risky behaviors in PG-13 movies as in R-rated movies, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

They analyzed 390 of the top-grossing movies rated by the Motion Picture Association of America between 1985 and 2010 and looked for main characters who were portrayed as violent and involved in at least one other risky behavior such as sex, smoking, or alcohol consumption. Ninety percent of the movies contained a main character involved in violence, and 77 percent had the same character engage in at least one other risky behavior. There was little difference between PG-13 and R-rated movies, regardless of when the film was released.

The findings suggest that the rating system does not take into account joint portrayals of risky behavior in a character, which the authors said could encourage youth to engage in these behaviors.

BOTTOM LINE: Teens are just as likely to see main characters engage in multiple risky behaviors in PG-13 movies as they are in R-rated movies.

CAUTIONS: The study did not examine whether youth were influenced by seeing risky behaviors in movies.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, Dec. 9

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