There is little room to doubt that over the past few decades diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions has come a long ways. Today, a greater percentage of individuals suffering from various mental health issues are able to get the treatment they need, and now it is often covered in part through their insurance plan. However, as a society, we still have a long ways to go in breaking down a number of the stigmas that are frequently associated with seeking treatment for mental health conditions.
Children and Mental Health Conditions
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking of these stigmas is centered around children and young adults dealing with mental health conditions.
According to researchers Joy D. Osofsky and Alicia F. Lieberman, nearly one in five children in poverty has a diagnosable mental health issue such as depression or anxiety. Often times these issues are developed as a result of early childhood trauma and, if left untreated, can evolve into mental health conditions that can impact the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, these are not the only situations in which mental health conditions may be disregarded or untreated. Many parents with children that show symptoms of ADHD are told they are overreacting and that their child is just rambunctious or free spirited. Although more children are treated than previously, boys are still diagnosed two to three times more often than girls even though research suggests that the conditions is not gender associated.
Lasting Impacts of Mental Health Conditions in Childhood
If left untreated, mental health conditions in our children can have severe impacts on their long-term development into happy, healthy adults. They have been linked to low self-esteem, difficulty performing well in school, struggles in maintaining relationships, and sometimes feelings of isolation. Additionally, some mental health conditions put individuals at greater risk for being diagnosed with other mental health issues.
Furthermore, mental health has been so tightly linked to physical health that the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated “there is no health without mental health”. Individuals with poor mental health status are at a higher risk for experiencing chronic physical conditions, becoming obese, and having an unhealthy diet. Alternatively, physical outlets such as regular exercise have been associated with improvements in mental health which suggests that an active lifestyle can be a good way to mediate condition flare ups.
Finding Help for Mental Health Conditions
For children that are experiencing mental health issues, there are a number of treatment options or ways in which to get help. As previously mentioned, developing an active daily regime might lead to some improvement. Furthermore, changing parts of your child’s diet could also help as well as utilizing meditation or other smartphone applications used by social workers to treat patients. A number of the meditation apps have been designed with children in mind and can help improve both mindfulness and mental health.
Finally, there are a number of organizations created specifically with youth mental health in mind that can be great resources for finding a doctor, therapist, support group, or alternative treatment method near you. Mental health conditions, especially in our children, are serious conditions that should be treated with the same level of awareness as physical conditions. Understanding the impacts of mental health is a great first step towards reducing stigmas.