Mental Illness

Mental Illness and Our Children

The CDC Mental Health Report, May 16, 2013, describes the term childhood mental disorder as all mental disorders that can be diagnosed and begin in childhood (for example, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, behavior disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, substance use disorders, etc.). Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the ways children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions. Symptoms usually start in early childhood, although some of the disorders may develop throughout the teenage years. The diagnosis is often made in the school years and sometimes earlier. However, some children with a mental disorder may not be recognized or diagnosed as having one.

Childhood mental disorders can be treated and managed. There are many evidence-based treatment options, so parents and doctors should work closely with everyone involved in the child's treatment — teachers, coaches, therapists, and other family members. Taking advantage of all the resources available will help parents, health professionals and educators guide the child towards success. Early diagnosis and appropriate services for children and their families can make a difference in the lives of children with mental disorders.

Mental health is important to overall health. Mental disorders are chronic health conditions that can continue through the lifespan. Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with mental disorders can have problems at home, in school, and in forming friendships. This can also interfere with their healthy development, and these problems can continue into adulthood.

Children's mental disorders affect many children and families. Boys and girls of all ages, ethnic/racial backgrounds, and regions of the United States experience mental disorders. Based on the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine report that gathered findings from previous studies, it is estimated that 13 –20 percent of children living in the United States (up to 1 out of 5 children) experience a mental disorder in a given year.  Because of the impact on children, families, and communities, children's mental disorders are an important public health issue in the United States.

What can a parent/guardian do to help their child:  If you have concerns about your child's emotional health or the way your child behaves at home, in school, or with friends, talk to your child's health care professional, contact your nearest Crisis Intervention or Teenline Service, or contact your child's Student Assistant Team at school.

Mental Illness Myths & Facts


1. Mental illness does not strike the "average person."

2. Children do not suffer from mental disorders.

3. Mental illness is not a serious health problem today.

4. Most people with a mental illness are receiving treatment.

5. Mental illness is not like other "Physical" diseases.

6. Mental illness and mental retardation are very much alike.

7. People with Schizophrenia have split or multiple personalities.

8. People with a mental illness are dangerous and capable of violence.

9. Most people who are mentally ill live in mental hospitals or on the streets.

10. People who talk about suicide rarely commit suicide.

11. Persons with a mental illness cannot achieve full recovery.

12. Mentally ill people can not lead productive lives.

There are many misconceptions about the diseases which are defined as mental illness. One of those misconceptions is the idea that all people who are mentally ill suffer from the same illness. Actually, some of the diseases that are identified as mental illness are disorders of the brain while others are more emotional illnesses based on the individual's ability to cope with the stresses of life.


1. Mental illness can strike anyone at anytime.

2. 12 million children suffer from mental disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism and Depression.

3. More hospital beds are occupied by persons with a mental illness than persons with cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined.

4. Only 1 in 5 persons affected with a mental illness seeks treatment.

5. Mental illnesses are biologically-based brain diseases and can be effectively treated with medications.

6. Both are devastating afflictions but are completely different and should not be confused.

7. Schizophrenia is a chemical imbalance of the brain and persons with it do not have split or multiple personalities.

8. Although stereotyped and feared as violent, most people with a mental illness are passive and withdrawn.

9. 60% of persons with mental illness live at home with their families.

10. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children and the fifth leading cause of death among adults.

11. Mental illness can be successfully treated with therapy and/or medication.

12. People with a mental illness who are properly treated can live full, enjoyable and productive lives.

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