Did you know that approximately 15 – 18 per cent of children have mental health problems? The most common of these are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity, Oppositional Defiance, and Anxiety Disorders. In fact, according to a presentation I attended with Dr. Leonard Sax, the statistics for kids with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are now closer to 30%.
Here’s the sad part: less than 1/3 of children and their families receive the care and treatment they need in a timely manner. There are a lot of reasons for this, but at least in part it is because:
- There is still a social stigma around receiving mental health treatment
- Pediatricians are often not experts in identifying or treating mental health
- Identification is expensive, including lost wages due to time off work for parents
- It can be difficult to find appropriate referral sources with expertise in children’s mental health
- Parents are struggling with these issues, themselves
- Parents do not want to “label” their children
If children with mental health problems are not effectively identified and treated in childhood, they tend to end up struggling in most aspects of their lives: schoolwork, friends, relationships with family members, and other aspects of their development. Early intervention and treatment, on the other hand, leads to brighter futures for kids and their families.
So if you suspect that your child is struggling from a mental health disorder, don’t wait. The more you know about the source of your child’s struggles, the better (and sooner) you’ll be able to help!