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Number of Psychiatrists Rising, but 1-in-5 Children Still Live in County Lacking a Psychiatrist


Death by suicide in children, ages 10-19, increased by 86% from 2007 to 2017, according to the CDC’s fatal injury database, and there is a well-known shortage of child psychiatrist in the U.S. A new study, “Growth and Distribution of Child Psychiatrists in the United States: 2007-2016,” in the December 2019 Pediatrics, found that the number of child psychiatrists in the U.S. has been on the rise over the past decade: from 6,590 to 7,991 (a 21.3% gain). However, there remains an absence of child psychiatrists in much of the country. In fact, approximately 70% of counties in the U.S. still don’t have a single child psychiatrist. Researchers for the study, which will be published online Nov. 4, examined data for all 50 states from 2007-2016, using data from the U.S. Census and the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. They found that the number of child psychiatrists per 100,000 children grew from a ratio of 8.01 to 9.75, but 1 in 5 children still live in a county without a child psychiatrist. Six states saw a decline in the ratio of child psychiatrists during the study period—Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and South Carolina. Researchers concluded that there is still a profound shortage of mental health care for children in large segments of the country, and that alternative strategies are needed to address child mental health needs, including integration of mental health care in pediatric offices, school-based mental health services, and new models of telepsychiatry.​


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds