Quick Facts about Mental Health in Foster Youth
It is common knowledge that our country is facing a mental health crisis. Approximately 20% of the general population struggles with a mental illness. However, the statistics for children in the child welfare system are staggering.
Consider these statistics from various studies of foster youth:
- Up to 80% of foster youth suffer from mental health issues as compared to 18%-22% of non-foster youth.¹
- In a study of foster youth aged 16-17 years old, one quarter have attempted suicide.²
- The suicide attempt rate for foster youth living in a group home was 2.6 times higher than youth living in a foster home.²
- The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study determined that there is a 60% increase in risk of suicide attempt with every additional adverse childhood experience.³
- Foster children are 5 times as likely to have anxiety and 7 times as likely to have depression than children not in the child welfare system.³
With the stories of neglect, abuse and trauma that we hear from the foster parents we serve, none of these statistics are surprising. Still, they are sobering.
As caregivers of children from hard places, we must be aware of the risks and ensure that our children are receiving the help they need.
As friends of parents fostering, we must provide support when we see it.
As child welfare workers of foster youth, we must eliminate silos and insist that the children on our case loads receive trauma-sensitive mental health services.
As members of the community, we must advocate for quality mental health services.
If you know of anyone caring for a child with a traumatic history, don’t hesitate to recommend Chosen’s services today. We welcome the opportunity to provide caregivers with mental health professionals and resources equipped to help children heal. This is a fight no foster child or parent should weather alone.
¹ American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care, Committee on Early Childhood, and Committee on Adolescence. Technical report: health care issues for children and adolescents in foster care and kinship care. Pediatrics. 2015;136(4). Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/136/4/e1131#ref-1
²Okpych, N. J., & Courtney, M. E. (2017). Characteristics of foster care history as risk factors for psychiatric disorders among youth in care. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Online publication: http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/ort0000259
³ Heather N. Taussig, Scott B. Harpin, Sabine A. Maguire Child Maltreat. Suicidality Among Preadolescent Maltreated Children in Foster Care. Published in final edited form as: Child Maltreat. 2014 Feb; 19(1): 17–26. Published online 2014 Feb 24. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4319651/