“Mental health” refers to how people think, feel and act as they face life’s situations. Our mental health affects how we handle stress, relate to one another and make decisions. And mental health influences the way individuals look at themselves, their lives and others in their lives. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life.
All aspects of our lives are affected by our mental health, and protecting our children’s mental health is a natural part of our parental obligation. Caring for our children—emotionally as well as physically—is critical to their daily lives and their independence.
Children and Adolescents Can Have Serious Mental Health Problems
Like adults, children and adolescents can have mental health disorders that interfere with the way they think, feel and act. When untreated, mental health disorders can lead to school failure, family conflicts, drug abuse, violence and even suicide. Untreated mental health disorders are often very costly to families, communities and the health care system.
Mental Health Disorders are More Common in Young People than Many Realize
Studies show that at least 1 in 5 children and adolescents have a mental health disorder at any given time. Yet, fewer than one in five of these children receive the mental health services they need. Among young people, at least 1 in every 10 has a serious emotional disturbance at any given time.