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Mental health disorders begin before the age of 14 and 20% of children, globally, have mental health issues. And it’s time that we change the stigma attached to mental health and view it just like any other health problems.
According to CDC,
The term childhood mental disorder means all mental disorders that can be diagnosed and begin in childhood (for example, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, behavior disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, substance use disorders, etc.). Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the ways children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions. Symptoms usually start in early childhood, although some of the disorders may develop throughout the teenage years. The diagnosis is often made in the school years and sometimes earlier. However, some children with a mental disorder may not be recognized or diagnosed as having one.
Additionally, according to the data collected from 2005-2011:
Children aged 3-17 years had:
- ADHD (6.8%)
- Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
- Anxiety (3.0%)
- Depression (2.1%)
- Autism spectrum disorders (1.1%)
- Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)
Adolescents aged 12–17 years had:
- Illicit drug use disorder in the past year (4.7%)
- Alcohol use disorder in the past year (4.2%)
- Cigarette dependence in the past month (2.8%)
But the problem is not just in the U.S. Click on the image below to enlarge to view global mental health facts.
What’s more important is that we approach children’s mental health with special care as there are many moving parts in diagnosing it correctly. Is little ‘Johnny’ acting out because he’s bored? Is it because he’s worried about school? A death in the family? Parents’ divorce? There are so many factors and causes to consider so we don’t mis-diagnose and mis-treat what might be a serious mental health issue or just simply a temporary behavioral problem.
Children’s Mental Health Talk with Vivian Nelson Melle
I discussed some of the causes, solutions, and resources with Vivian Nelson Melle, a behavioral consultant who works at an inner city elementary school in Phoenix, AZ about some of the questions I mentioned above in this week’s Wellness Wednesday.
We talked about:
- Why is mental health problems so prevalent these days?
- What are some factors that cause mental health problems, including diet.
- When is a child’s problem a real mental health issue and not just a discipline issue?
- What should parents look for in determining whether they need to seek professional help?
- What are some resources that parents can use?
- What are 3 things parents can do once they know their child has a mental health problem?
Watch the video below for some answers.