Kids and Mental Illness by the Numbers

If you look at prison, most prisoners have a mental-health diagnosis … We’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’re trying to make sure that the person living next to us is not one day chopping up bodies …You know, that sounds crass, but that’s real.”

Joe Beck, Spofford’s director of therapy services

1 where anxiety ranks as a mental illness among children.

20 to 50% of depressed children and adolescents have a family history of depression.

25 to 50% of anti-social children become anti-social adults.

50% of children with a mental illness drop out of high school.

70% of children in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental illness.

For a complete listing of mental-health offices and agencies go to Kansas and click on Mental Health.

Beginning in July, reporter Eric Adler and photographer Tammy Ljungblad followed the plights of five children inside Spofford Home, which offered unprecedented access for this series. The Star chose the children based on their stories and parental cooperation. Parents, who wanted to raise awareness about children and mental illness, gave signed permission to peruse medical records, to record therapy sessions, and to conduct in-depth interviews with them, their children, therapists and others. Interviews with dozens of mental health experts, and more than 3,000 pages of local, state and federal reports, were also used to prepare this series.

Adler, 47, has worked at The Star since 1985. His work has won numerous awards, including first place from the National Headliner Awards and the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, Tamara, and 9-year-old son, Aidan.

Ljungblad, 43, has been at The Star for 17 years. Her photographs were part of The Star’s 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning series. She has also won awards from the National Press Photographers Association and the Missouri Press Association. She lives in Prairie Village with her husband, Brian, and 7-year-old son, Brett.

Bill Luening edited the series, Charles W. Gooch designed the pages and Don Munday edited the copy.

During family therapy, Marcus’ mom provides a shock of her own.