By Lauren Fasig, JD, PhD (Director – Children, Youth, and Families Office)
Tragic circumstances are often the catalyst for national conversations about children’s mental health. As we know, the heartbreaking events at Sandy Hook elementary have prompted debates in our national media about our kids’ mental health and access to care for those who may need it.
As a nation, we have been moved to do something… anything, to prevent needless suffering and guarantee our kids a chance at healthy and bright futures. Yet, not enough of us know that 1 in 5 of our children (an estimated 15 million) have a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder… more than leukemia, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
What’s more, there are proven methods for successfully preventing and treating these disorders, yet less than half of our children will ever get the help they need. Why is this when the repercussions for our youth such as difficulty in school, substance abuse, bullying or being bullied, violence, or even suicide can be so damaging?
Here are some major reasons:
- Mental health problems are often perceived as less “real” than physical ones.
- Parents may be unsure about whether a child’s behavior needs treatment or can be treated.
- Stigma and shame can keep people from seeking help.
- Parents don’t know where to go to get help or what interventions are effective.
- Treatment can be expensive and health insurance coverage is limited.
- Too few professionals are trained to diagnose and treat child and adolescent disorders, and the quality of care is uneven.
- We have not invested enough in the scientific pursuit of better diagnostic tools and treatments.
This May, APA will participate in “Speak Up for Kids”, the national month-long virtual campaign coordinated in partnership with the Child Mind Institute and organizations that care about children’s mental health. The campaign will include a series of streamed talks, roundtable discussions, videos, and written resources. Our goal is to help break down the barriers to children’s access to prevention and treatment of mental health disorders. And we need your help.
Join us! Engage your community in this critical conversation by hosting a viewing party for one or more of the 15 marquee live webcasts.
APA’s President-elect, Nadine Kaslow, PhD, will provide our marquee webcast on “Suicidal Youth and Their Families: Overcoming Barriers to Receiving Help” on May 15 at 10:00 am.
Other webcasts throughout the month will focus on topics such as raising drug-free kids, bringing mental illness out of the shadows, school-based mental health among others.
APA members, Alan Kazdin, PhD, and Sherry Hamby, PhD, will provide mini-video clips tackling questions related to aggressive behavior in children and on dealing with abuse in teen dating relationships.
Want to get involved? Follow these steps:
- Visit the campaign’s website to get information on hosting a viewing event and access a local viewing event toolkit and discussion guides for each live marquee event.
- Invite your clients, community groups, parents groups, or others to gather to watch one or more of the events that will be webcast from the Speak Up For Kids channel, or encourage them to register for and attend one of the webcast events in their own home.
- Follow #SpeakUpForKids on Twitter and the Child Mind Institute on Facebook, and tell your friends and followers about your event through posts and tweets.
Join the world’s leaders in child and adolescent mental health to engage in the conversation.