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Child unhappy/depressed, past 6 months

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For sample children age 4 to 11, KIDDEPRES reports parents' responses to a question about whether, during the past 6 months, the child had been "unhappy, sad, or depressed." Before asking this and other questions about the child's mental health, the interviewer stated, "I am going to read a list of items that describe children. For each one, tell me if it has been NOT TRUE, SOMETIMES TRUE, or OFTEN TRUE, of [sample child] during the past 6 months." The Field Representative's Manuals for 1997-2000 instructed interviewers, "[i]f the respondent gives an answer which does not match the categories read in the question, reread the question emphasizing the wording of the answer categories."

Related Variables 

KIDDEPRES is part of a series of questions about behavioral/emotional problems used to calculate Mental Health Indicator (MHI) scores. These questions were taken from the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) developed by Dr. Thomas Achenbach and were selected separately according to specific gender and age groups (males and females; ages 2-3, 4-11, 12-17). While the sets of questions used to calculate MHI scores varied by age and gender, a question about whether the child had been "unhappy, sad, or depressed" was asked for every age and gender group. Parental responses to the question about whether children age 2-3 and children age 12-17 had been "unhappy, sad, or depressed" are reported in TODDEPRES (Toddler unhappy/depressed, past 2 months) (available 1997 forward) and TEENDEPRES (Teen unhappy/depressed, past 6 months) (available 1997-2000), respectively.

For information about the other questions used to calculate MHI scores, and the calculation and interpretation of such scores, see

  • MTODMHI (for male children 2-3) (available 1997 forward)
  • FTODMHI (for female children 2-3) (available 1997 forward)
  • MKIDMHI (for male children 2-3) (available 1997-2000)
  • FKIDMHI (for female children 2-3) (available 1997-2000)
  • MTEENMHI (for male children 12-17) (available 1997-2000)
  • FTEENMHI (for female children 12-17) (available 1997-2000)


Apart from the change in universe, KIDDEPRES is completely comparable over time.

The MHI variables for sample children age 4-17 (including KIDDEPRES) were only fielded in 1997-2000. For 2001 forward, the NHIS replaced the MHI variables for this age group with a series of mental health questions taken from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The variable most comparable to KIDDEPRES included in the SDQ series of questions is UNHAPPY (Often unhappy, depressed, or tearful, past 6 months).


  • 1997: Sample children age 4 to 11 in quarters 3 and 4.
  • 1998-2000: Sample children age 4 to 11.


  • 1997-2000