April 02, 2020
State Latest News | Coronavirus | Bangor Metro | Pandemics | Today's Paper

Maine has the nation’s highest rate of anxiety in children, report finds

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
A teacher at Central Community Elementary School in Corinth talks to a young student to help him find the pre-kindergarten classroom on the first day of school in this BDN file photo.

The latest Kids Count Data Book, released Thursday by the Maine Children’s Alliance, shows some troubling news about children’s health.

Maine has a higher-than-average infant mortality rate, as well as high rates of anxiety and depression among children, according to the report.

Research associate Helen Hemminger says at one point, Maine had the lowest infant mortality rate in the country.

[Subscribe to our free morning newsletter and get the latest headlines in your inbox]

“Most recently that hasn’t been true,” Hemminger says. “We’ve been above state averages. And we’ve done better the last three years. It’s been going down, but we’re still above national averages, so that’s still an area of concern.”

Hemminger says about 80 children below the age of one die every year in Maine. She says better access to prenatal care and programs that help new parents in the home would help reduce that number.

[Maine parents struggling as cost of raising children rises and income stagnates]

The Kids Count Data Book also shows that Maine has the highest rate in the nation of children diagnosed with anxiety, and the third highest rate of kids diagnosed with depression.

Hemminger says the data also show that Maine children have the highest rate of access to mental health counseling, but “it didn’t speak to the number of visits, or the adequacy of that service, or even if it helps, so it’s really not a full picture.”

[First review in 2 decades shows all the ways Maine failed kids with mental health problems]

Hemminger says the report also found that the suicide rate among Maine teens is also on the rise, and above the national average.

The report does, though, find that childhood poverty is down, as is teen pregnancy and juvenile arrests.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like