Myths vs. Facts
In the United States alone, more than 43 million adults have a mental health disorder, half of which begin before the age of 14 and 75% before the age of 25. Unfortunately, misinformation about mental health is rampant – and mixing up the facts can have dire consequences.
How much do you know about Youth Mental Health?
Scroll down, click the MYTH to reveal the FACT.
A psychiatric disorder is by no means an indication of a person’s potential for further happiness and fulfillment. Early intervention can be very effective at preventing chronic, debilitating conditions. The earlier a person gets treatment, the better chance of eliminating, or effectively managing, symptoms that would otherwise interfere with functioning.
1 in 4 teens has some type of diagnosable mental health problem in a given year.
-National Institute of Mental Health: Harvard University Study: June 2005
A psychiatric disorder is an illness and can be diagnosed, treated and managed, just like other physical conditions like asthma, diabetes and cancer.
-Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health
Even at a very young age, children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These conditions are often clinically diagnosable and can be the product of the interaction of biological, psychological and social factors. (Half of all lifetime cases of MI develop before the age of 14.)
-US Center for Mental Health Services
It is often difficult to separate symptoms of a psychiatric disorder from their character; impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, extreme shyness or fear. But a person with a disorder who is symptomatic can be in severe distress and dysfunction to the degree that they do not have the skills to manage conditions as overwhelming as depression, anxiety or psychosis.
While environment and relationships can exacerbate a disorder, those things don’t cause the disorder. Psychiatric disorders are rooted in the bio-chemical foundation of a person’s make-up. They are illnesses that have genetic and biological bases. You would not blame the child or the parent if a child had leukemia. Parents can play, however, an important role in a child’s treatment plan and future development.
Almost 20% of young adults in juvenile justice facilities have a serious emotional disturbance and most have a diagnosable mental disorder.
-US Department of Justice
Medication is not the norm and parents and psychiatrists usually develop a treatment plan that includes behavioral therapy, among other things, before resorting to medication. Approximately 20% of young people have psychiatric issues, yet on 5% take medication. We never doubt whether a child with diabetes, a seizure disorder, or cancer should get medication! A bigger problem is that millions of children suffer from serious psychiatric problems and receive no help of any kind.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among high schools students and the 2nd leading cause in college students. Talk about suicide should always be taken seriously.
Your Language Matters
The words you use matter. You can better reach youth, break down negative stereotypes and give teens hope by choosing words that are more relatable and promote understanding.