Stats and Facts: It’s Children’s Mental Health Week

A Clear Path

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.

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7 responses to “Stats and Facts: It’s Children’s Mental Health Week

  1. I have to say, Lisa, that I’m *shocked* by those numbers. One in five Canadian children? That means an average of 4 or more kids per classroom? Unbelievable. Something has to be done. Thanks for taking the first step: raising awareness.

    Though I don’t have kids, we all have a responsibility to make sure healthcare addresses our needs, so I’ll be checking back in to join the discussion when I can.

    I wish you many readers, a tight community and a voice to bring about change.

  2. After working as a parent educator for nearly a decade, I am not surprised that mental health issues are so prevalent. The stigma for mental health issues combined with parents who are not educated on signs of mental health problems make it a difficult problem to address. In the U.S., it is difficult to find an effective mental health provider for kids. The bottom line is that parents have to know how mental illness manifests itself and then be strong advocates to see their children’s needs get met. Great topic for a blog!

  3. I loved your blog post. It catches the eyes of parents and gets us all thinking out Children’s Mental Health. It also highlights we need to be thinking about and working to improve Children’s Mental Health all year round, not just this week. Parenting is a challenging role at the best of times. An added challenge of coping with mental health problems can put families under tremendous stress as they support their child, and cope with the school and health system. I look forward to reading about the incites and opinions of your interviews with Children’s Mental Health experts tomorrow.

  4. This is a great topic and I really hope that you reach a larger audience, because this is a very serious problem. I’ve seen numbers cited that are even higher than this. Apologies for putting a link to the abstract ,but last time my html code failed: http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/62/6/593

    In the US, the lifetime prevalence of a psychiatric disorder is 1 out of 2 people. As you note, the age of onset is typically in childhood and adolescence.

    I’m not familiar with the Canadian system: Is there a screening program for younger children? Or Awareness campaigns? Or programs to address this?

  5. Pingback: May the 4th be With You: Yoda and Friends | Kids & Mental Health

  6. Right here is the right site for anybody who hopes to understand this
    topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with
    you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You definitely put
    a fresh spin on a subject which has been written
    about for years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

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