Mental health issues in children and youth are common these days, yet many people are hesitant to talk about them openly. It’s because social stigmas are just as frequent and perceived stigmas often plague the young people who are struggling. But once kids and parents realize they are not alone, the road to recovery might become a little clearer.
The prevalence of disorders
National estimates show that as many as one in five children has a diagnosable mental health issue. One in every eight has what’s considered a Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED), according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
Here in Wisconsin, about one in 10 children are living with an SED. That translates to as many as 80,000 children between the ages of nine and 17 having a mental health issue that requires treatment.
“If you’re the parent of a child with a mental health issue, it can sometimes feel like your family is off on an island,” says Dr. Paul Greblo, SSM Health psychologist. “But the reality is, there are tens of thousands of families out there dealing with similar things just in our state.”
Starting the conversation and seeking help is critical, because sometimes families don’t realize the consequences until it’s too late.
Suicide in Wisconsin
The youth suicide rate in our state is almost 40 percent higher than the national rate, according to the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. In 2014, there were 3.4 suicides per 100,000 youth.
While those statistics are startling, it’s also concerning how many kids are contemplating suicide. The Wisconsin Council on Children & Families also reported in 2014:
• 17 percent of youth purposely hurt themselves, without wanting to die, in the previous 12
• 13 percent seriously considered attempting suicide during the previous 12 months
• 12 percent made a plan about how to attempt suicide in the previous 12 months
• 6 percent attempted suicide at least once in the previous 12 months
• 2.5 percent made a suicide attempt in the previous 12 months that resulted in an injury,
poisoning, or overdose that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse
Where to turn for help
“If you know someone who is feeling down on themselves for any number of reasons, it’s important for them to know that they haven’t done anything wrong,” says Dr. Greblo.“ They are not alone, and there are places to turn to for help.”
We will try to do our part to educate parents and the public about mental health issues throughout 2017. Our partners at NAMI Dane County also have a number of resources for parents.
If you are in a crisis situation, keep these numbers handy:
• (608) 280-2600 – Dane County 24-hour Crisis Line
• (800) 273-TALK – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline