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How to Improve Mental Health of America’s Youth

A new study emphasizes the importance of early intervention in helping children and adolescents deal with emotional and mental health issues. Early treatment reduces developmental delays and helps children heal from early trauma.

Parents, teachers, school officials and doctors all need to become educated in identifying behavioral problems early, so that children can get the help that they need to thrive and mature.

“Health care professionals should provide their pediatric patients with mental health screenings at every visit to assess cognitive and emotional functioning, testing a child’s brain vitals just as they would routinely gather information about other vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, and pulse.”

“Mental illness affects up to 1 in 5 American youth, and are among the most economically costly conditions to treat in this population. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cost of mental disorders including health care, use of services such as special education and juvenile justice, and decreased productivity for those under age 24 in the U.S. is an estimate $247 billion annually. Furthermore, half of lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14 and three quarters of cases by age 24. A mental disorder left untreated is likely to result in the development of other concurrent mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders as well as long-term consequences including poorer performance in school and involvement with the juvenile justice system. “

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