Kara Meyer, Ph.D. - Psychology Services
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MENTAL ILLNESS AWARENESS WEEK

This week, October 6-12, marks Mental Illness Awareness Week, the goal of which is to raise awareness and reduce stigma by educating the public about mental illness.

On that note, let's take a look at child mental health. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 children (those ages 3-17) in the United States has some form of mental illness**. The most common of which are listed below:

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD involves significant problems with concentration and sustaining attention and/or problems with hyperactivity and impulse control. This is the most common disorder amongst children and adolescents, with approximately 7% being affected.

  • Disruptive Behavior Disorders: This includes oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. These disorders involve defiance of rules, aggression toward people and animals, destruction of property, and deceitfulness. Approximately 3.5% of children and adolescents have these disorders.

  • Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders involve significant fear, worry, and nervousness. Specific disorders include separation, generalized, and social anxiety disorders, as well as phobias. Nearly 3% of children and adolescents are affected.

  • Mood Disorders: This involves problems with chronic sadness, irritability, or rapid changes in mood. Two percent of children and teens have a mood disorder.

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorders: These are the autism spectrum and related disorders which consist of impairments in social development and communication, as well as repetitive/stereotyped behaviors. Nearly 1% of youth have a pervasive developmental disorder.

Boys are more likely to be affected by ADHD, disruptive behavior disorders, and autism. They are also more likely to be smokers and to die by suicide. Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to experience depression and to abuse alcohol.

Early identification and effective treatment are key. Research shows that, if left untreated, mental illness can continue into adulthood, leading to impairment in multiple areas of life. Other risks include substance abuse, aggressive behavior, and suicide.

Identification can be challenging as childhood and adolescence are marked by the natural physical, behavioral, and emotional changes of development. During this time, youth are also learning how to effectively cope with challenges and adjust to change. This can make it difficult to determine what is normal vs. abnormal. While most research on mental illness focuses on adults, more and more attention is being given to children and adolescents in order to determine how to predict and prevent mental illness.

- Kara Meyer, Ph.D.

**Statistics may vary according to source. Those presented here are based on information collected by the CDC.

**The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other medical professional. This blog does not provide clinical advice, nor should its contents be considered clinical advice. Should you have any healthcare-related questions, please call or see your physician or other healthcare provider promptly.