Many often assume mental health problems can only affect adults. While it’s true adults are older and, therefore, have generally had more interactive experiences, children are equally as susceptible to mental health disparities.
The United States has undeniably seen an increase in mental health cases over the last decade. “Today, mental health care represents 38 percent of children’s Medicaid spending, which is used by just 10 percent of juvenile Medicaid patients. But the benefits far outweigh the costs. Today’s investments help to heal children and produce resilient adults. In the long term, effective treatments not only save lives but have significant economic benefits, including savings in the cost of education, unemployment, healthcare and incarceration” (Nicely, 2017).
Unfortunately, these significant benefits are often thrown away when adults playing key child development roles are uneducated with regards to mental health problems and their markers for unusual behavior. Mental health problems can affect anyone, especially after undergoing some form of trauma. For children, trauma exposure can permanently alter brain function and increase susceptibility to major health issues. Moreover, “within schools, mental health issues are often mistaken for discipline problems, learning disabilities, academic struggles, and ADHD” (Nicely, 2017). Mental illness in children is often related to untreated mental illness in parental units which can sometimes be linked to substance abuse or other family environmental at-risk factors.
While many organizations, celebrities and individuals are working to end the stigma, mental health issues still widely persist. These issues don’t go away with age. They continue to haunt children throughout their progression into teenagers as well as their experiences in adulthood. Interestingly, “many forms of mental illness first emerge during the college years, often coinciding with teens leaving home to navigate a new academic, social and emotional environment.
According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health’s 2016 Annual Report, almost half of all college-age adults have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, and college students are seeking psychological help in record numbers. Nationwide, college enrollment increased by five percent, accompanied by a 30-percent increase in the demand for mental health services between 2010 and 2016 (Collier, 2017).
Typically, anxiety is a popular gateway path for other mental health implications. When children are unequipped with ways to handle personal anxiety and stressors, other health crises and mental depression can quickly emerge. When children susceptible to mental health instability eventually go to college, they have higher chances of developing serious mental health problems.
When college students begin to feel so depressed they’re unable to function correctly, steps must be taken immediately. Since suicide is the second-leading cause of death amongst college-age youth, it’s imperative that children are offered strong bonds of emotional support early on to develop healthy coping techniques for their futures.
There are many factors that play a role in the increased needs to promote positive mental health, yet, positivity and antidepressant medications are not always the best route towards more mentally healthy lifestyles. A child’s well-being is absolutely vital to encourage success later on in life and uphold and popularize the importance of mental health stability.
Collier, D. (2017, August 22). East Hill Family Medical: Talk mental health with college-bound youth. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from http://auburnpub.com/lifestyles/east-hill-family-medical-talk-mental-health-with-college-bound/article_2625f87d-52f8-5838-aaea-9e47a185641b.html
NAMI. (n.d.). NAMI. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers
Nicely, M. (2017, August 22). Column: Children’s mental health critical. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2017/08/22/column-childrens-mental-health-critical/104837594/
NIH. (n.d.). Any Disorder Among Children. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-disorder-among-children.shtml