Few Low-Income Children Get Mental Health Care in California, Despite Need

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Mental health disorders in childhood and adolescence, including anxiety disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are extremely common. Studies estimate between 13 and 20 percent of American children experience a mental disorder in a given year. Photo: iStock

Adela Carranco was just 11 years old when her mother discovered she was planning to kill herself.

Her suicidal intentions were tapped out in cold detail on her cell phone, from options for ending her life—take pills, get run over, or slit her wrists—to notes saying goodbye to loved ones.

For years, Adela’s mom, Olga Maldonado, had wondered if her daughter was in some kind of distress. Starting when she was a baby, she’d panic anytime she was left alone. And once she hit puberty, Adela became routinely aggressive and withdrawn. But each time Maldonado voiced her concerns to a doctor, they were dismissed, she said.