Childhood is often the time when emotional and behavioral impairments begin to present themselves. In fact, each year, many young children are removed from schools and childcare facilities due to extremely disruptive behavior and a variety of emotional disorders. Despite this fact, only a small percentage of children with mental illness receive aid from the necessary services-- around 20 percent. However, research shows that early intervention for mental illness in children can have a significant impact on their future emotional health and well-being.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
"Since children develop rapidly, delivering mental health services and supports early and swiftly is necessary to avoid permanent consequences..."
Unfortunately, without early intervention, mental illness that presents in childhood often continue into adolescence and adulthood. In fact, when they reach adulthood, children with mental and emotional health concerns typically have higher health care costs than other adults. Additionally, untreated mental disorders in children can be the beginning of a downward spiral that persists into adulthood and beyond. It typically begins with failure in school, which often leads to dropping out. From there, the spiral continues, with poor employment opportunities ultimately leading to poverty.
If early intervention is so critical to better outcomes for children with mental disorders, then why don't more children utilize mental illness services? It seems that both awareness of services and access to services are to blame for the discrepancy. Fortunately, there are steps being taken to combat these issues around the country. In 2012, Boone County, Missouri, passed a sales tax for children's mental illness services, with a goal of providing education to parents and children about coping with life's stressors. Services offered include family intervention programs, psychological evaluations, counseling, and more.
Children spend a great deal of their childhood in the school system. Unfortunately, children with emotional disturbances have the highest rate of school failure, with up to 50 percent dropping out. Because of this, New York City provides mental disorder training online for teachers and other school staff. The focus of this free training program is recognizing the signs of psychological distress among students-- and referring students to mental health services.
"Schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services." -NAMI
Though progress is being made in getting children access to services early on, continued awareness and education is needed. Our children deserve our assistance in navigating the roadblocks to mental illness services so that their full potential can be realized.
Interested in job opportunities working with these children? For more information, please contact us.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder and Your Mental Health: Tips for Coping
- How Your Desk Job Might be Affecting Your Mental & Emotional Health
- 7 Quick Tips For Taking Care of Your Mental Health
- Parents of Developmentally Disabled Children Benefit From Peer Mentors
- The True Face of Mental Illness in Society