Mental Health Issues in Children are a Real Issue
May was Mental Health Awareness Month – and while I missed the boat on posting about this topic then, it’s really one that we should never stop discussing. There is such a stigma around mental health issues, and it shouldn’t be that way. I remember how much grief I took from people in my life when Bug was diagnosed ADHD and we decided to medicate him. People! It’s real. It’s not a made up thing that “lazy parents” resort to because they can’t discipline their child. NOOOO. My son was falling further and further behind in school. His work, when he brought it home for me to look at, would start off with letters on the page and slowly evolve into crazy robot and monster pictures. He couldn’t sit still for two seconds. We had a family meeting with his doctor and decided that medication was the right avenue to take at that juncture, to help him focus and not fall farther behind in school. Within two weeks, he went from making Ds and Fs to As and Bs. He made the B Honor Roll for the first time. His teacher remarked that he was “a different kid.” We still have our challenges – like the morning routine in particular, but we’ve seen great improvement.
I say this to encourage any of you who may be struggling with a child that you feel may have something else going on. You need to know what to look for, and you need to know it is OK to seek out help! Mental health is such an important aspect to overall health, including in children. Children suffer from mental health issues just as severely as adults, yet access to good care for children with mental health issues has been a lower priority. Many agencies are working to change that.
The purpose of the specific focus on children’s mental health week during Mental Health Awareness Month is to help educate and inform the population about not only the need for good access to care for children with mental health issues, but also to highlight the support resources that are already available for children and teens who may be suffering from mental health issues and trauma. It’s an opportunity to discuss the importance of access to mental health services, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. During this week, positive mental health practices will be featured.
Mental health issues stem from illness in the central nervous system
… and should be prioritized as high as any other health condition facing our children. While as many as 20% of children in America have some sort of mental health issue, according to research by ScienceDirect.com, parents remain overwhelmingly under educated about children’s health issues and resources.
Our children need access to good mental health programs across the United States. A recent study from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics found that 1 in 13 school age children is taking one or more prescription medicine for behavioral or emotional issues. The data was derived from the National Health Interview Survey, which continually collects information about US health and health care. Although the researchers could not identify specifically what the children were being treated for, in their expert opinions, the most likely disorders are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression.
When left untreated in children and adolescents, mental health problems can result in negative and sometimes tragic consequences. These may include dropping out of high school, substance abuse, juvenile detention, physical health problems, and even suicide. Associated costs, both financial and human, are wide and can impact not only the child, but their family, community, and beyond (as much as $247 billion per year, according to Annual Report on Health Care for Children and Youth in the United States).
The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (National FFCMH) wants to send the following messages to our communities:
- Mental health is essential to overall health and well-being.
• Serious emotional and mental health disorders in children and youth are real and treatable.
• Children and youth with mental health challenges and their families deserve access to services and supports that are family driven, youth guided and culturally appropriate.
• Values of acceptance, dignity and social inclusion should be promoted throughout all communities for children, youth and families.
• Family and youth voice is a valued asset in determining appropriate services and interventions.
• End Stigma!
It’s important for our children, families, and communities.
FIND More information HERE:
Supporting Children’s Mental Health: Tips for Parents and Educators
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Resources for Young Children
Specific Resources for Young adults:
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Janine Huldie saysJune 19, 2015 at 5:44 am
as a former special education teacher, I just couldn’t agree with you said here if I tried. That said thank you so much for not only sharing the statistics, but your own personal experiences with Bug, too.
Janine Huldie recently posted…Scream For My Calendar
Georgina M saysJune 26, 2015 at 11:18 am
I have heard all the “lazy” parent comments you can think of and more all the way to “bad mother”, and I’ve been doing this for 24 years with the child in question. Kudos to you for saying it so well. Thank you.
ginny saysJune 26, 2015 at 2:45 pm
I understand completely my 6 year old son is on 5 medicine he is diagnosed with autism sever separation anxiety and adhd and bipolar…These medications makes me be normal 6 year old. He not scared of everything. He is brave now and he can get education. But I’m far from a lazy mom I quit my full time manager job. Not only I have 1 but I have 2 special needs boys. Until you walk in my shoes for a day or night my 6 year old does not sleep much…
Rebecca saysJune 26, 2015 at 5:28 pm
I watched my then 11 year old daughter fail for the first time. We tried the elimination diet (that went over like a fart in church!), we tried stress balls, relaxation, you name it, we tried it. Then we tried medication. I actually like my child again! She started too late that one of the failing grades only got as high as a C+ (which she is devastated over). I may be “lazy” but medication is the best thing for my daughter.
katbiggie saysJune 30, 2015 at 8:30 am
I understand completely! It’s really amazing that we even hve to have this discussion. I’m glad medicine worked for you too!
Carla saysJune 26, 2015 at 8:10 pm
My child is now 20 and off medication (for now) but the school years were just plain horrible. Parents of kids in his third grade class circulated a petition to get him removed from the class. I kid you not. He was already taking meds for ADHD and depression and after that horrific year, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I could write a book … and maybe one day I will …. but trust me, the stigma is real and needs to stop.
Erica saysJune 26, 2015 at 10:14 pm
My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in 2nd grade I waited until his 2nd round of 3rd grade to put him on medication…and what a difference it made. I didn’t want to medicate him at all but it was the best decision I ever made as a parent. He’s now 16…and still on meds but he’s aware of himself now more and working hard to keep himself in check. I never went up heavy on dosage but wanted him to be aware of his feelings and actions.
katbiggie saysJune 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm
Yes! I hope that we will be able to wean him off as a teen, but for now, it’s doing wonders with his school work. And I keep him on pretty low doses as well… we aren’t medicating at all this summer. Thank you for your comments.
another jennifer saysJune 29, 2015 at 1:21 pm
This is such an important issue to talk about. Mental health is real in children and adults. There is no shame in seeking help through counseling, medication or otherwise. Period. When we talk about it and address it, the stigma goes away.
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katbiggie saysJune 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm
I agree 100%!
Chris Carter saysAugust 17, 2015 at 11:52 pm
EXCELLENT post Alexa. This awareness is SO needed today. Thank you for supplying much needed resources and support… sharing!
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katbiggie saysAugust 18, 2015 at 1:38 pm
Thank you so very much Chris. I appreciate those words of encouragement!
Abélia saysAugust 22, 2016 at 11:01 am
I have several mental illnesses in my extended family so I’m curious to know if those will start showing up in my children. Thank you for this helpful article to know the signs of mental health issues showing up in kids. I didn’t know that 20% of children in America have some sort of mental health issue. I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on my kids so they can get the help they need.
Anna Powell saysDecember 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm
Good post. It does seem like there is more and more news of mental health issues talked about in the news with children especially with tragic events. thanks for sharing.
mood swings treatment Morris Township NJ saysJanuary 18, 2017 at 2:43 am
Mental health is an issue that is not spoken loudly, psychiatric help can make a difference in the battle.
Geoff Dodd saysFebruary 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm
Hi Alexa, I just started a tiny Health Forum. With regard to ADHD and also anxiety and panic attacks, I have an interesting solution. I practice brainwave entrainment. I’ve been doing it since Jan. of 2006. It brings the brain back into sync and trains it into a meditative ‘alpha rhythm.’ Works very, very well but I note that it’s recommended for people over 18 years. Just my 2c of extra info. 🙂 GD.
katbiggie saysMay 14, 2017 at 8:07 am
That’s really interesting… yes, my son is a bit young for that, but it’s something to keep in mind for the future. Thank you for your input. 🙂
Katia saysMay 3, 2017 at 8:21 pm
This is so important! Thank you for sharing your story.
onipa saysJanuary 15, 2019 at 5:05 am
Most of the people are going through some kind of mental health issue which they don’t recognize by them.
Liveitthebest saysOctober 7, 2019 at 5:25 am
Thank you for sharing! We as parents and teachers – our part should also focus on preventive efforts like being equipped with enough knowledge about the mental health of our children, for this could strengthen our teenagers and prevent them from developing these mental disorders.
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