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Medical News & Perspectives
February 7, 2007

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Shows Promise for Children With Mental Illness

JAMA. 2007;297(5):453-455. doi:10.1001/jama.297.5.453

As growing numbers of children are diagnosed with mental illnesses, clinicians are struggling to identify, develop, and apply evidence-based therapies. Some practitioners are embracing cognitive-behavioral therapy, a treatment that has been successfully used in adults for decades. A growing body of evidence is demonstrating that this approach can be effective for children with some mental illnesses.

An estimated 20% of US children and adolescents aged 9 to 17 years has a mental or addictive disorder associated with at least some impairment; as many 4 million or 11% of children have a major mental illness with significant impairments (Shaffer D et al. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996;35:865-877). Yet as few as 1 in 5 children with a mental illness or an addictive disorder receives treatment.