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| Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Promotes the Needs of Children and Youth with Mental Illness|
An estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems
who need help are not receiving it. As a result, they may have a much
higher risk of suicide, which is the third leading cause of death among
youth aged 15 to 24. According to the National Alliance on Mental
Illness, other consequences of untreated mental illness include high
school dropout, which often leads to limited employment opportunities
and poverty; involvement in the juvenile or criminal justice system;
and higher utilization – and therefore, higher costs – of healthcare
A report from the Center for Mental Health Services states that, at any
given time, at least one in five children and adolescents may have a
mental health problem. Nationally, at least one in 19 or as many as six
million young people may have a serious emotional disturbance (SED).
In New Jersey, this figure translates into nearly 75,000 children and
adolescents having an SED. Too often, children’s and adolescents’
mental health disorders are not recognized and appropriate help is not
“Mental disorders in children are just as real and treatable as they
are for adults,” said Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of
the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies.
“Left untreated, children's mental health disorders can lead to
problems at home, trouble in school and the community, substance abuse
and even suicide. It is important that the communities around the state
explore ways to better treat children with behavior and emotional
The Fifth Annual National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on May
6, 2010 is a day for everyone to promote positive youth development,
resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services
delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and
their families. Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day raises awareness
of effective programs for children's mental health needs; demonstrates
how children's mental health initiatives promote positive youth
development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with
mental health needs can thrive in their communities.
It is important to not stigmatize mental illness, which could present a
harmful barrier to a child’s willingness to seek help. Depression,
addictions, anxiety and other mental disorders must be attended to just
as physical illnesses are treated.
“We must tear down barriers—not only stigma, but also insufficient
funding—to ensure that children and adolescents can access the
treatment and support services they need. In addition, we need to
demonstrate that they must not hesitate to ask for help and inform them
of resources available to them,” Dr. Wentz added.
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