Young People & Mental Health
Are the Kids Alright? (in America)
"Mental illness is often thought of only as an adult concern. But about half of mental illnesses begin to reveal themselves in childhood. What is the state of children’s mental health and how is it different from that of adults?"
TopCounsellingSchools.org brought to my attention a telling infographic currently featured on their website. Children & Mental Health. It is always an area that draws my interest, especially with my practise in mind. How many adults sit with therapists speaking of untold, unseen and unchartered events and difficulties they experienced in their childhood which directly or indirectly (ripple effect) caused them to develop mental health problems and/or to develop undiagnosed mental disorders.
According to the study published on their website (and reproduced here with permission) almost 15 million American children have some kind of diagnosable mental disorder (source: http://www.apa.org) and there are 4 million American children and adolescents with a serious mental disorder (source: http://www2.nami.org).
Only 20% of American children with mental disorders are identified and treated in any given year. That's a lot of vulnerable children potentially reaching adulthood without any support or intervention from Mental Health Professionals.
Mental health problems can lead to issues with family and school — and can even lead children to attempt suicide
From this infographic on American children & Mental Health we learn that suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people age 15yrs - 24yrs. Suicide kills more Americans in this age group than these causes combined: cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease and 9 in 10 children and adolescents who commit suicide who have a mental disorder (source: . http://www2.nami.org).
The Ripple effect is unsurprising. This study shows that coping with mental health difficulties and mental disorders at the particularly vulnerable stage of adolescent development is likely to result in behavioural problems, social and interpersonal difficulties. For example, 1 in 2 of students 14 years and older with a mental illness drop out of high school. And 65% of Boys, 75% of girls who are in juvenile detention have at least one mental illness.
Identifying and Treating the Problem
The signs are there. Are we reading them?
As a practising Counsellor & Psychotherapist I have listened to adults recount in sorrow and disbelief from their adult perspective the lack of foresight, understanding and effort to understand the childhood experience they so desperately tried to express to their caregivers.
"how did they not know" "couldn't they read the signs" "my cries for help were completely ignored" "I was shamed into silence" "I was the child, how could I have known better" "nobody noticed"
Common signs of mental health trouble, by age group:
Catching the signs and responding to them.
Although children's brains are in a state of development, and growth spurts, graduations and growing up give the impression that 'things will pass' unacknowledged and untreated mental health issues and mental disorders run the clear risk of further and more entrenched mental health issues in adult life. The interventions and the treatments available "can help put a young person on a path to a healthy future".
Thank you to Breitta Mengel from Top Counselling Schools for contacting me. Please continue reading for the script version of the infographics featured in this article. Please click on the Top Counselling Schools logo to visit www.topcounsellingschools.org or click here to visit the original post of the infographic "Are the Kids Alright - Young People & Mental Health" /Erich
Are the Kids Alright? Children and Mental Health
Almost 15 million American children have some kind of diagnosable mental disorder. (1) 4 million American children and adolescents with a serious mental disorder (2)
2 in 10 Children 9-17 with any diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment (2)
1 in 2 Mental disorders that begin by age 14 (2)
In any given year, only 20% of children with mental disorders are identified and treated. (2)
Most common disorders among children 8-15 (percentage in age group with disorder) (3)
ADHD: 8.6% Mood disorder: 3.7% Major depression: 2.7% Conduct disorder: 2.1% Depression: 1% Anxiety disorder: 0.7% Panic disorder: 0.4% Generalized anxiety disorder: 0.3% Eating disorder: 0.1%
Mental health problems can lead to issues with family and school — and can even lead children to attempt suicide.
Suicide Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people age 15-24. Suicide kills more Americans in this age group than these causes combined: cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease. (2)
9 in 10 Children and adolescents who commit suicide who have a mental disorder (2)
1 in 2 Students 14 and older with a mental illness who drop out of high school (2)
Legal trouble Youths in juvenile detention with at least one mental illness (2)
Boys: 65% Girls: 75%
Identifying and Treating the Problem
Early identification and adequate treatment can quite literally be the difference between life and death for young people with mental illness.
Signs of mental illness Signs can vary depending on the disorder and age of the child. Common signs of mental health trouble, by age group: (4)
Age 4-7, preschool/early elementary years
Bad behavior at preschool or daycare
Hyperactivity outside of what other children are doing
Excessive fear, worrying or crying
Extreme disobedience or aggression
Lots of temper tantrums all the time
Age 7-11, grade school years
Inconsistent friend group
Excessive fear and worrying
Sudden drop in school performance
Loss of appetite
Sudden weight changes
Obsession over weight
Sudden change in sleep habits
Visible and prolonged sadness
Visual or auditory hallucinations
Age 11-19, tween and teen years
Other common signs on either list above
Repeatedly threatening to run away
Withdrawal from family or friends
Troubling writings or art that suggest desire to harm self or others
Treatment hough children’s brains are still in a state of development, adequate treatment of mental disorders can help put a young person on a path to a healthy future.
Most common treatment options (1, 5)
Cognitive behavioral therapy