Sunday, July 11, 2010

Childhood Mental Health and Adult Income

A recent study in Social Science and Medicine demonstrates for the first time that childhood psychological problems have long-lasting effects on adult income. Researchers from the Rand Corporation analyzed data from the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics which has followed 5000 families, and 35,000 individuals within those families, for over 40 years. Key Findings are as follows:
Compared to their siblings, adults with childhood psychological problems on average:
Had a 20% lower family income equaling $10,400 per year and $300,000 projected over their lifetimes.
Worked seven weeks less per year. Most of the difference was due to a greater number not working at all. When comparing only siblings who worked one or more weeks, the difference was reduced to two weeks per year.
Achieved six months less education (most common for those with substance or alcohol abuse).
Were less likely to be married (by 11%). Of those that were, their spouses tended to have lower incomes.
Were seven times more likely to have an adult psychological condition (35.8% vs. 5.4%). Those that reported childhood depression were the ones most likely to report psychological problems as adults.

Not all of the people who have psychological problems during childhood will carry these problems into adulthood. But they are 10 to 20 times more likely than others to have these shortfalls during adulthood.
There clearly are large economic costs during adulthood caused by childhood psychological conditions. This study provides yet another reason to increase access to mental health services for children. We can now add lower income to the problems experienced by those struggling with mental illness. Not only does less income affect living circumstances, it also affects adults’ ability to afford treatment for mental illness. It is much more effective and humane to treat mental illness early to prevent negative lifelong consequences.
The above information came from an article by J. and G. Smith published on the Health and News Review site.

This is first long term study done on the effects of mental health in children on those same kids as adults. The authors admit there were no questions to indicate if the kids had received treatment or not, but given the low rate of children who receive screenings much less treatment, it can be assumed there was little to no intervention for most of the respondents. I love the the line " it is much more humane to treat mental illness early..." Now we have another way of looking at children's mental health needs..HUMANE. It is more HUMANE to help a child who is struggling with what may be a mental health issue than to let them suffer through unaided. Seems ridiculous to me that we even should have to go there, but as long as mental health is treated like some form of voodoo or a way to control the minds of people by the big Pharmacology companies, I guess we will have to break it down to the simplest of statements.. it is inhumane to not get a child assessed and treated for mental health concerns.
The post this is taken from can be found at

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