I’ve been lucky enough to build relationships with mental health professionals throughout my years as a writer, researcher and curious human being.
Because it’s Children’s Mental Health Week (May 2-8, 2011) I want to present some (perhaps startling) statistics on the subject. These facts and stats are courtesy of the experts at The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, a Toronto-based children’s mental health centre.
- One in five Canadian children suffers from a mental health problem, affecting families, schools, and sometimes entire communities.
- For school-aged children, most mental health problems take the form of “acting out” – defiant behaviour, arguing, not following the rules, or not listening. These behavioural problems can also lead to social difficulties if the behaviour affects kids’ ability to get along with other children.
- While some teens experience behavioural difficulties similar to those experienced by younger children, others begin to display mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. In some instances, the teenage years may be a time when acting out becomes more serious, leading to dangerous or criminal activity.
Like so many other health issues, early intervention appears to be a key factor in the realm of children’s mental health, too. And, for children of any age suffering from mental health problems, getting help early gives the best chance for a positive outcome. “Most mental illness first appears in childhood or adolescence,” says Dr. Marshall Korenblum, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre. “If mental health problems are left untreated, they tend to grow worse as children get older.” Parents who feel their child might benefit from help can consult their family doctor or pediatrician, or directly approach a community mental health facility.
What are your thoughts on these mental health stats? Are you surprised or intrigued? How can we foster a better mental health system for children and families in Canada and world-wide? I queried a few other experts in the mental health field last week and, tomorrow, I will post their opinions on what’s top of mind in the field.