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School Aged Children Show Increasing Signs of Mental Health Struggles

Mental health problems have been increasing at an alarming rate across the country, and the world as the signs become better recognized and people become more aware to the existence of certain forms of mental illness. Two recently published articles in the Lancet Psychiatry journal has expressed that experts in the field of child psychiatry name schools as one of the top resources for identifying these problems in children, and that in the past one in ten kids have been helped through their schools. CBC News reports: “Behavioural disorders such as separation anxiety and oppositional defiant disorder are seen mainly in children aged four to 10 years, while anxiety and depression are more common in students aged 11 to 18, the researchers said.”

The articles also express that ten to twenty percent of young people across the globe could benefit from a mental health intervention method of some kind, and that with children spending so much of their time in school than any other formal location, this plays a massively huge role in the progression of each child’s development, especially mentally.

Playing A Part In The Mental Health Of Children

School plays a large role in a child’s life, being one of the driving forces and main focuses that are present from age four to age eighteen in many cases. The social interactions, academic involvement, emotionally learned behaviors, and cognitive processes obtained through these educational facilities are only a small portion of what is involved. Physical development learned behavioral expectations and the development of morals are also a part of the system, and all of these parts of a conscious human being are affected and can affect mental health. Some children exhibit anxiety or other behavioral disorders, which can often lead to depression in later school years. The Globe And Mail states: “As many as 8 per cent of young people attempt suicide each year and roughly 15 per cent admit to thinking about suicide.”

When these issues go untreated, it can greatly impact the range of emotional and mental development that a student might reach. Failing school, not attending classes, missing out on career and relationship opportunities are results of these issues going unnoticed and untreated.

What These Articles Have Brought To Light

Information offered throughout the two above mentioned articles have stated that three fourths of people who contact mental health related services should have and could have been diagnosed before the age of eighteen, and a survey showed that in more of the high-income countries, only a quarter of the kids who need mental health attention are treated or even properly identified. These numbers are astounding, and provide insight to the lack of proper attention being paid to the subject of mental illness in school aged children. Medical News Today reports that: “About 10-20% of children and young people worldwide would benefit from some form of mental health intervention, according to the authors. However, some people are concerned that mental health screening in schools may contribute to young people being labeled and stigmatized.”

While these concerns are worth examining, it still stands to reason that children should not go without the proper treatment and care for their conditions. Students of today will eventually be the leaders of tomorrow, and this means that giving the care that is required now will greatly benefit, not only the individuals, but the country and the world in later years.

Screening Children In Schools

Dr. Mina Fazel, the lead author on one of these articles, and a practicing child psychologist through the University of Oxford in England, has made it clear just how important these early screenings are. She has commented that if these statistics were showing physical conditions like that of diabetes in children, then the screenings would be taken more seriously, and that modern schools should provide help to these children in the manner of picking up on mental health issues early on. Many of the children who were screened wouldn’t require any kind of complex therapy or intervention type methods of involvement, but recognizing anxiety and early signs for depression could help many to perform better in school, and lead more fulfilled and happy lives after graduation. Dr. Fazel has also expressed that there has been some proof in the past to show that children prefer to deal with these problems in school rather than through an external intermediary, but that the health system and educational system are too different to see this need.

How Mental Illnesses Are Affecting Low Income Countries

Over eighty percent of the children in the world live in middle or low income countries where mental illness can be far more severe and yet there is less help for it. In some places, such as India, programs like that of SHAPE have begun taking an initiative in providing a resource for mental health care by training school counselors to promote better mental and physical health in children. These programs also screen for other issues such as obesity, bullying, and sight related issues. Many low income countries around the world still don’t have programs like this one in place, and the promotion of better mental health practices is vastly needed.

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