Young people can have mental, emotional, and behavioral problems that are real, painful, and costly. When unaddressed, these problems can take a toll on families as well as our schools and communities.
The number of young people and their families who are affected by mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders is significant. It is estimated that as many as one in five children and adolescents may have a mental health disorder that can be identified and require treatment.
Mental health disorders in children and adolescents are caused by biology, environment, or a combination of the two. Examples of biological factors are genetics, chemical imbalances in the body, and damage to the central nervous system, such as a head injury. Many environmental factors also can affect mental health, including exposure to violence, extreme stress, and the loss of an important person.
Families and communities, working together, can help children and adolescents with mental disorders. A broad range of services is often necessary to meet the needs of these young people and their families. (From the SAMHSA website, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
On this page, you will find information and resources on:
Schools play a critical role in helping students diagnosed with mental illnesses reach their full academic and functional potential. The academic performance and behavioral functioning of students significantly improves when their mental health needs are effectively addressed. NAMI calls on schools to adopt the following ten best practices, download School Best Practices (pdf).
NAMI has released a publication titled, Reinvesting in the Community: A Family Guide to expanding Home and Community-Based Mental Services and Supports, to inform families about the importance of expanding the array of home and community-based services and supports available to children and youth with mental illness and their families.
To download a copy of the family guide, please visit NAMI’s Child and Adolescent Action Center website by clicking here. Sections of the guide in Spanish are also available online.
The Children’s Mental Health Planning Committee convened in 2008 to build a plan to transform the Children’s Mental Health System in Utah. The goal of the Committee is to create a comprehensive service delivery system to enable children and youth to stay in their homes and communities and to keep families together.
The children's mental health coalition has created a Bill of Rights for Children with Mental Health Disorders and their Families. "This Bill of Rights represents the standard of what families living with mental illnesses should expect from treatment," said AACAP's President, Robert Hendren, D.O. "Children do better when they receive consistent, tailored treatment. Few children receive any treatment and fewer still receive the sustained, quality care that they require."
The Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (HCBW) is a vehicle that allows states to apply to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand the array of intensive home and community-based services available to children and youth with serious mental health treatment needs who require a hospital level of care.
Getting an accurate diagnosis for your child can be challenging. Several factors contribute to this challenge, including the following:
Getting an Accurate Diagnosis for Your Child: 10 Steps for Families (pdf)
For some children, having a diagnosis is scary and they may be resistant to accept it. Others are relieved to know that what is happening to them is caused by an illness, that they are not alone, and that there are treatment options that can make them feel and do better. It is important to find ways to use the strengths and interests of your child to help him or her cope with difficult symptoms. Benefits are often derived from aerobic exercise, martial arts, music, and art – whatever it takes to provide your child with a therapeutic outlet. The diagnosis is one piece of a much larger puzzle.
National Organizations and Information:
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We all need nutrition to support our bodies. A poor diet equals poor health, contributing to obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes - conditions that many people living with mental illness are at a high risk of developing. Nutrition is important for everyone. If you are living with mental illness, eating well is especially important for you, because what you eat can affect your daily life, mood and energy level. Healthy eating is not about being thin or deprivation. Healthy eating is about feeling good, having more energy, participating in your recovery and mapping out your future. Simply put, healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to improve wellness. Dietary guidelines set by the USDA state that a healthy diet is one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat free or low fat milk products. A healthy diet should include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. Be sure to limit saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars. Lear more about the U.S. government's guidlelines by reveiwing the food pyramid: mypyramid.gov.