Treating mental illness in childhood can make all the difference
Mental illness can affect young adults, and even children. But with the proper diagnosis and treatment, young people can go on to lead healthy, productive lives.
Here are some quick statistics to consider:
• Four million children and adolescents in this country suffer from a serious mental disorder that causes significant functional impairments at home, at school and with peers.
• Of children ages 9 to 17, 21 percent have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment.
• Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14. Despite effective treatments, there are long delays, sometimes decades, between the first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment. An untreated mental disorder can lead to a more severe, more difficult to treat illness and to the development of co-occurring mental illnesses.
• In any given year, only 20 percent of children with mental disorders are identified and receive mental health services.
• Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.
• Approximately 50 percent of students age 14 and older who are living with a mental illness drop out of high school. This is the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
• Left untreated, childhood disorders are likely to persist and lead to a downward spiral of school failure, limited or lack of employment opportunities, and poverty in adulthood. No other illnesses harm so many children so seriously.
• Early and effective mental health treatment can prevent a significant proportion of delinquent and violent youth from future violence and crime. It also enables children and adolescents to succeed in school, to develop socially and to fully experience the developmental opportunities of childhood.
The Child and Family Institute at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals treats children and adolescents ages 0 to 18. For more information visit www.childfamilyinstituteny.org.
If your or your loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, go to the nearest emergency room or call 800.273.TALK (8255).