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Survey Shows that Many Children in Our Region Struggle with Mental Health Issues

Sep 11, 2018

More than 28,000 youth in Greater Cincinnati have poor or fair mental and emotional health, according to analysis of survey data from the 2017 Child Well-Being Survey, conducted by Interact for Health and Cincinnati Children’s, with support from United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

The survey asked parents and caregivers to describe their child’s mental health. Respondents selected excellent (54%), very good (26%), good (15%), and fair or poor (5%).

Data from Cincinnati Children’s show a growing need among children in the region for mental and emotional health services. Between 2015 and 2018, inpatient hospitalizations for pediatric mental health increased 8% and outpatient mental health visits increased 13%.

Strong link between mental, physical health

The survey also examined ties between a child’s physical and mental/emotional health, comparing parents’ assessments of the two. Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) parents and guardians who rated their child’s physical health as excellent or very good were also likely to rate their child’s mental and emotional health as excellent or very good. In comparison, among youth whose parents rated their physical health as fair or poor, only 4 in 10 (40%) had excellent or very good mental health.

“Once again, this survey shows the close connection between a person’s physical and mental health,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “By understanding the social and emotional health needs of our youth, we can begin to identify which children may need additional support.”

Moreover, survey data show correlation between the self-reported mental health of the parent or caregiver and the child. Only 2% of parents who rated their own mental health as excellent or very good indicated that their child’s mental health was fair or poor; while 19% of parents who rated their own mental health as fair or poor rated their child’s mental health as fair or poor.

Assessment of mental health varies by age

As children grow older, the percentage of parents reporting excellent or very good mental health decreases, with 92% of parents of children up to age 5 reporting excellent or very good mental/emotional health compared to 73% of parents of children ages 13 to 17. Teenagers were also most likely to have received treatment or counseling from a mental health professional, with 20% of parents indicating that their teen had seen a provider in the last 12 months.

About the Child Well-Being Survey

The 2017 Child Well-Being Survey is funded by Interact for Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, with support from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. It was conducted March 5-Aug. 9, 2017, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 2,757 adult caregivers from a 22-county region in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana was interviewed. This included 1,056 landline interviews and 1,701 cell phone interviews with cell phone users. In 95 of 100 cases, the estimates will be accurate to ± 1.9%. There are other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording or context effects that can introduce error or bias. For more information about the Child Well-Being Survey, please visit

About Interact for Health

Interact for Health is improving the health of all people in our region. We serve as a catalyst by promoting health equity through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. To amplify the impact of our work, Interact for Health focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers. We are an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

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