Child Mind Institute Insists Its Mental Illness Numbers are “Real”


Some 17.1 million American children have or have had a mental illness and two-thirds of them aren’t getting treatment, according to a report from the Child Mind Institute. The report was released as part of a national collaborative initiative, “Speak Up for Kids.” Psychiatrist Harold Koplewicz, President of the Institute, told media that these mental disorders are “real,” that the situation is “absolutely, truly” a “crisis,” and that parents should feel comfortable with his assertions because he isn’t being paid by drug companies to say them.

The Child Mind Institute report stated that 49.5% (or 36.9 million) of America’s 74.5 million children “have had a diagnosable mental illness at some point before they are 18.” Elsewhere, the report stated that of America’s 74.5 million children, 17.1 million (or 23%) “have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.” It was not explained how “diagnosable mental illness” and “diagnosable psychiatric disorder” differed. However, in both cases the sources of the numbers were general surveys using mental health screening tools known to produce high rates of false positives, and the report acknowledged that “statistics on the number of children and adolescents who have mental illness vary depending on what you measure…”

Koplewicz assured Medscape that “we are talking about real, debilitating illness” in millions of children, representing “absolutely, truly, a public health crisis.”

Child and adolescent psychiatrist David Rettew added, “Also, to those who would like to say that we are overdiagnosing everything, I would point out that if we conducted a national survey of kids and asked them how many of them were ever diagnosed with an orthopedic or respiratory problem, we’d probably get numbers even higher, yet nobody accuses these folks of making things up.”

“We do not take money from the pharmaceutical industry,” Koplewicz also assured Medscape. “I think we might be the only medical institution that has taken that stand. We even put it in our charter. So if I tell you that medicine is an option to treat children, parents should feel comfortable, because I’m not doing it because I’m being paid to do so, I’m doing it because it’s medically sound.”

The Child Mind’s Institute’s listed partners in its Speak Up for Kids initiative, though, includes many organizations being funded by pharmaceutical companies. In addition, as discussed in a number of Mad in America articles (see below), earlier in his career, Koplewicz was co-author of “Study 329,” which has been described by many commentators as an iconic symbol of pharmaceutical industry corruption of psychiatry. A legal settlement between GlaxoSmithKline and the US Department of Justice summarized that the final, highly influential journal article about the antidepressant Paxil’s effects on children “distorted the study results and gave the false impression that the study’s findings were primarily positive, when they were, in fact, primarily negative.”

In Medscape, Koplewicz compared his Child Mind Institute’s work to St. Jude’s.

Most US Children With Mental Illness Go Untreated (Medscape Medical News, May 7, 2015)

Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report Finds An Estimated 17.1 Million Young People In The US Have Or Have Had A Diagnosable Psychiatric Disorder (Child Mind Institute press release on PRNewswire, May 4, 2015)

Children’s Mental Health Report (Child Mind Institute)

Study 329’s Authors: Should Those Who Live in Glass Houses Throw Stones? (Mad in America, August 6, 2012)

The Proactive Search for Mental Illnesses in Children (Mad in America, July 7, 2014)


  1. Why can’t these researchers be more specific?

    Saying that 49.5% of children have a mental illness at one point is surely not precise enough. I’d like it to extend out to the fifth decimal place. Saying that 49.56924% of children get a mental illness would be so much more reassuringly exact. If we could get that level of research going, then we’d really know exactly how many children have broken brains and bad genes, and how many don’t.

    For now, let’s wait for the blessed day when this level of precision will be possible.

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  2. “Child Mind Institute Insists Its Mental Illness Numbers are ‘Real'”

    Lies, lies, and more lies. And why on earth is there an organization called the “Child Mind Institute.” Furthermore, why on earth would such an institution, with such a terrible name, have any credibility whatsoever.

    There is exactly 0% of the world’s population that is mentally ill, because “mental illness” is the biggest hoax of all time. People do become very sick because of false diagnoses, psychotropic drugs, and abusive, coercive, incarceration. But those promoting the “mental illness” epidemic are either fools or evil.

    It doesn’t matter whether or not these psychiatrists are receiving money directly from Big Pharma. They are getting paid to cause suffering, and that is wrong. Obviously the psychopharmaceutical industrial complex depends upon convincing people that they are “mentally ill” and then drugging them until their symptoms match the false diagnoses. The only “epidemic” out there is the one cause directly by psychiatry. Eradicate psychiatry, eliminate psychotropic drugs, and watch the epidemic disappear. Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry.

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  3. Grown adults defaming children with “mental illnesses” that have already been declared scientifically “lacking in validity” is disgusting. The DSM “disorders” are “real” only to the extent that they are a medicalization of the human experience and they are a description of the “real” iatrogenic illnesses the psychiatric drugs cause. STOP DRUGGING CHILDREN!

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      • I’m working on writing my story because it’s quite typical of the apparently common, Biederman inspired, antidepressant induced bipolar epidemic. My prayer is some day I can get it turned into a movie, since I can actually tell my story in the lyrics of music and artwork.

        I don’t know how to stop the massive drugging of children, other than to try to educate the public. I am just heartbroken so many children were harmed via the exact same iatrogenic pathway as my doctors intentionally covered up a “bad fix” on a broken bone and medical evidence of child abuse. What an ethical pastor explained was “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.”

        And, according to John Read’s research, it appears psychiatric cover ups of child abuse, resulting in medically unnecessary neuroleptic prescriptions which do cause the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, is seemingly the number one cause of schizophrenia today. It’s a heartbreaking story, but the music makes it a little cheerier. And, at least it was me, not my child who was drugged. And he’s doing really well now.

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  4. Okay, so let me get this straight. He ran a very flawed and terrible study that was dangerous to the lives of children, he was involved in the “ransom notes” campaign business, and now he expects to be believed that he only has the welfare of America’s children at heart when he wants to intervene early and make sure that they get the “treatment” that they need????????? Bull manure by any other name is still bull manure.

    Too many psychiatrists seem to believe that we’re totally stupid. It’s time to stop this kind of foolishness, especially since it’s dangerous to the health of the children of this country.

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  5. Excuse me, if almost 1/2 of America’s children have had a “mental illness” by 18, and almost 1/4 have had a “psychiatric disorder”, somebody needs to seriously treat the “experts” who are spreading this nonsense around with such abandon. I imagine if some of these “experts” could be prosecuted, there would be a heck of a lot less childhood “mental illness” and “psychiatric disorder” in the world. Strictly speaking, all you parents out there, I think it would help to point out that giving your child a “mental disorder” doesn’t represent a prize-winning best parenting practice. Next question: once this has been done, are “stigma” busting campaigns more helpful, or less helpful, when it comes to overcoming the social handicaps your child now faces as a potential certifiable lifelong nutjob?

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  6. “49.5% (or 36.9 million) of America’s 74.5 million children “have had a diagnosable mental illness at some point before they are 18.”
    If something is present in 49.5% of any population you’re pretty safe in calling it normal. These people are ridiculous and pathetic and the disease mongering has reached the level of reprehension equal to the war mongers. No amount of human suffering is more important that somebody’s bottomline.

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    • I agree, warmac, this has multiple domino effects that will affect society at large in profoundly and at length. Everyone will be challenged in all sorts of ways. This is probably how radical change will happen, and it will ripple. I don’t think there’s any stopping it at this point, it’s a runaway train.

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    • Not in the United States it wont. It’s getting harder and harder every year to get approved for SSI. SSI isn’t even anywhere near enough to live off of anyway. It’s barely enough to be homeless and eat, or bum off your parents.

      In any case, the conservative forces that be in this country have only grown over time, despite how the media often implies the opposites. 30 years ago nobody could legally carry a concealed firearm, and now millions of people do. People are smoking up neighborhoods with wood stoves that used to be illegal, shooting guns in their backyards, walking around with pit bulls, etc.

      I guarantee you that as soon as a politician makes SSI an issue, most of the public will overwhelmingly support abolishing it altogether.

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  7. I am glad I grew up in a time before they stole childhoods of the innocents before the mass drugging of America. I am so sorry that I could not escape it in my adulthood. But, I am so very much stronger and smarter now. I thank my inner gut, God, the Great Spirit, Robert Whitaker and the other brave ones. I get so sick and disgusted with the mass addictive drugging of our innocent children; that even tears and rage are not sufficient anymore.

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    • “I am glad I grew up in a time before they stole childhoods of the innocents before the mass drugging of America” Amen to this! I would have been drugged for sure. I came so close to the fire that I cry for the next generation because there are many that will get burnt for sure.

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  8. Two of my sons were in the frightening 40% of “untreated ADHD” sufferers. The oldest has two jobs he is very successful at both, after graduating high school with honors. The youngest had a straight-A high school GPA and is now a freshman in college, and is also a college soccer player. Neither every got hooked on drugs, committed a crime, crashed a car, failed a grade, dropped out of school, or got a girl pregnant. Both have friends and active social lives. Neither appears to be suffering one iota from their “lack of treatment.”

    It is now well established that long-term stimulant treatment does nothing to improve any social or academic or psychological outcome. Yet we are still intimidated with scare-tactic stories about “untreated ADHD” causing havoc. When will people catch on?

    —- Steve

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