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:
Resources for Young Children
Specific Resources for Young adults: