Many times, children go through serious changes in the way they typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions because of which they experience fear, worry, or disruptive behaviour. These symptoms if identified at an early stage can be supported with effective treatment. A CDC study examined mental health symptoms in four different U.S. school districts and found that 1 in 6 students had enough behavioural or emotional symptoms and impairment to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder; percentages varied among the different sites.
The requirements of children and adolescents with mental disorders in terms of healthcare and school services can be planned for by communities, schools, and healthcare professionals using this information. Mental problems can be prevented or lessened by screening, identifying, and sending kids and teens to appropriate therapies.
What are mental disorders among children?
Serious deviations from how kids generally learn, behave, or manage their emotions are referred to as mental disorders in children. These deviations can be distressing and make it difficult to get through the day. Many kids occasionally encounter phobias, concerns, or disruptive behaviours. A mental disorder may be identified in a kid if their symptoms are severe and persistent, and interfere with their ability to function at home, at school, or at play. ADHD, anxiety, and behavioural disorders like ODD are some of the most prevalent mental illnesses that can be identified in children.
Because they can have a substantial impact on one’s general health and interpersonal interactions throughout one’s lifetime, mental problems in children should be closely monitored and their treatment should be understood. Early problem detection can help kids obtain the support they require.
Anxiety disorders were the most commonly reported mental disorders
To identify a student’s likelihood of having a mental disease, teachers in a few school districts were initially requested to complete a quick questionnaire (screening). To ascertain whether their child satisfied the requirements for a mental condition, the parents of the chosen students were then asked to participate in a more formal diagnostic interview.
- Overall, 1 in 6 students had enough symptoms and impairment to meet the criteria for one or more childhood mental disorders.
- Anxiety disorders were the most reported mental disorders, followed by oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Risk for disorders varied greatly from community to community.
- Based on the screening done by teachers, between 1 in 6 and 1 in 3 students were at high risk for a mental disorder, depending on which community they were from. On average, there were no demographic differences in the percentage of students who met the criteria for a mental disorder based on parent reports, but teachers identified a higher percentage of boys, non-Hispanic Black students, and students receiving free or reduced-price lunch as high-risk for mental disorders than their peers at all or most sites. This means that depending on how symptoms were evaluated, estimates of the influence of race or income on symptoms produced varying results.
How can you help students at risk?
- Schools may consider screening students for mental health concerns and providing effective prevention services.
- Paediatric and family medicine clinics can use these estimates to understand how many students may need services.
- Communities can work with schools to integrate mental health services in schools and provide referral and treatment services.
- Public health can use these estimates to plan for healthcare and school service needs, as well as to watch changes over time.
According to a study, estimations for mental problems were similar when assessed three years later in one of the PLAY study communities.
Structured diagnosis of child’s emotional and behavioural symptoms
A school-based study called the Project to Learn About Youth-Mental Health (PLAY-MH) was conducted to determine how many K–12 pupils suffered from mental diseases. In four separate school districts across four American states (Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and South Carolina), data was gathered between 2014 and 2018. The school districts ranged in size, were in urban, suburban, and rural locations, and had pupils from various socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic origins.
Two phases of data collection were used. Teachers in a few school districts participated in Stage 1 by completing validated screening questionnaires to characterize the emotional, behavioural, or tic symptoms of kids. For the second stage, a sample of high-risk and low-risk pupils was requested to participate.
During Stage 2, parents participated in a structured diagnostic interview regarding the emotional or behavioural symptoms of their child. The data was utilized to establish whether the kids met the requirements for a mental condition in terms of symptoms and disability.
It is unknown whether the same results would apply to students in other school districts or locations, even though the pupils come from four school districts in four states and represent a variety of backgrounds.
Help is here:
Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)
Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation
Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.
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