The top 10 overall health concerns for U.S. children in 2010 and the percentage of adults who rate each as a “big problem” include:
1. Childhood obesity, 38 percent
2. Drug abuse, 30 percent
3. Smoking, 29 percent
4. Internet safety, 25 percent
5. Stress, 24 percent
6. Bullying, 23 percent
7. Teen pregnancy, 23 percent
8. Child abuse and neglect, 21 percent
9. Alcohol abuse, 20 percent
10. Not enough opportunities for physical activity, 20 percent
So what do you notice? Cancer, heart disease, allery, asthma, etc. are not on the top ten list.
These top 10, as rated by parents, are all lifestyle, family, and mental health issues.
And the reality is that incidence and prevalence rate studies confirm these parents' perceptions.
I would add anxiety, depression and school problems to this list, but they are probably already embedded in the list.
New Jersey actually has one of the better statewide children's mental health systems in the country. There are great services, such as mobile response and home-based services that can get to families within 24 to 48 hrs to help with a crisis. And these services are insurance-blind and available to every family, no matter income or life situation.
Prevention is complicated because the list of background risk factors is so huge. But early detection and intervention is possible and can be very beneficial.
The recent deaths in Connecticut only serve as a grim reminder to the sad outcomes that can accompany mental health issues that go unnoticed or untreated.