Tackling the Rise in Mental Illness Among Children: How Can We Learn More, Spread Awareness, and Provide Support?

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Children and Mental Illness: A Public Health Crisis:

Mental illness among children is on the rise in the United States. We need to act now by educating ourselves and supporting our kids, nieces, nephews, friends, etc to change this negative upward trend and help create a better future for the next generations. 

We often hear about mental illness statistics in regards to adults: 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness, and while this is important information to know, it leaves us to overlook the prevalence of mental illnesses in children. In fact, the statistic of 1 in 5 is almost the same when it comes to children with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. 

  • 9.4% of children (aged 2 to 17) are diagnosed with ADHD
  • 7.4% of children (aged 3 to 17) are diagnosed with a behavior problem
  • 7.1% of children (aged 3 to 17) are diagnosed with anxiety
  • 3.2% of children (aged 3 to 17) are diagnosed with depression

 50% of all mental illnesses begin before the age of 14, with 75% beginning before the age of 24. Catching mental illness early is a key factor. Seeking treatment and finding support when younger can help reduce negative symptoms and better prepare children to be more successful. Unfortunately, many children go undiagnosed (close to 50%), and this carries with them into adulthood and can severely impact their life. 1 in 6 students meet the criteria for one or more childhood mental disorders, but many are left undiagnosed and therefore untreated.  

“Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health problems if we respond to them early.”

(InBrief: Early Childhood Mental Health Video)

Signs and Symptoms

  • Persistent sadness
  • Withdrawn from social interactions
  • Extreme irritability
  • Drastic changes in mood and energy
  • Frequent headaches and/or stomachaches
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Extreme fear of certain places or objects
  • Decline in school performance
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Continual disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Treatment

  • Psychotherapy 
    • Also known as talk therapy or behavior therapy
    • Addressing mental illness by talking with a psychologist or other professional
    • Children learn to discuss their thoughts and feelings, how to respond to them, and learn coping skills
  • Medication
    • Ex: stimulants, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, antipsychotic, mood stabilizers

How to Spread Awareness and Provide Support

  • Educate yourself
    • Learn about different mental illnesses and know the signs/symptoms
    • Do some research and share what you find
  • Talk about it
    • Discuss how you feel with others (both talk and listen!)
    • Take conversations about mental health/illness seriously
    • Using emojis can help facilitate the discussion

Tips on How to Be Supportive

  • Avoid being judgemental 
  • Draw on past experiences, but do not rely on them (everyone is different)
  • Have an open mind (do not assume anything)
  • Suggest different resources and/or programs
  • Be compassionate and empathetic

Share one way you will help to educate the community, spread awareness, or support others in the comments section below!

7 Comments

7 comments

  1. Hi Jing. I didn’t know that this was a rising issue. It’s really important for people to learn about these problems because mental health is really important. I think this is a really interesting topic. Good job!

    1. Hi Maria!

      Thanks for reading my page! I think that we often associate mental illnesses with adults or teenagers, so information about younger children and mental illnesses is not as widely known or discussed. I also agree that mental health is super important, and I fear that if we don’t act now the future of mental illnesses is going to so much worse.

      I am glad you were able to learn something new!

  2. Hi Jing Jing! I loved your project so much! It was so interesting and informative! I plan to educate the community during discussions of mental illness, which often happen with my friends or in my classes; I plan on bringing up the point of how prevalent mental illness is in children. You really opened my eyes to a rising issue I had no clue about, and I am so glad that I read your page!

    1. Hi Kelsey!

      Thanks for stopping by my page! I am so glad you enjoyed it and were able to learn some new things. Your action plan sounds great! Just having a discussion about the topic and checking in with your friends and classmates is super important and can make a bigger impact than I think we tend to realize. Also, spreading awareness about how prevalent mental illness is among children will go a lot further than we think as well. We need to open everyone’s eyes to this rising issue that is only going to continue to get worse if we don’t address it soon and take it seriously.

      Thanks again for reading my project!

  3. Hi! I love your project! My project was quite similar in the sense that I am also tackling the issue of mental health really being an issue within children, but your project was by far WAY more informative. I believe that the first step in assisting this issue is raising awareness and just simply educating others. Great work!

    1. Hi Julia!

      Thanks for scrolling through!

      That’s so cool that we did similar projects! I will have to check yours out! I definitely agree that doing simple things like raising awareness and educating others can be super beneficial, more than we might think. Great first steps to take!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Hi Jing Jing!
    For my project I studied a similar topic, which was depression in adolescents. In my research I found that one of the most effective treatments is the combination of both psychotherapy and medication. I appreciated that you included methods of treatment in your project.

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