When I was pursuing my master’s in counseling (not THAT many years ago), the notion of young people dealing with issues such as depression or anxiety was just beginning to be discussed. At the time, there was limited research to help professionals make accurate diagnoses of childhood mental health disorders. It was difficult to imagine then that children – living through what should be the most carefree times of their lives – would have to grapple with these challenging conditions. There were many unanswered questions, too, about the appropriateness of medication to help young people with these diagnoses. We have all learned a great deal since then from solid research and evidence-based clinical practice. National Public Radio is providing a helpful overview about this important topic in its new series (Mental Health in Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions of Students). Up to one in five U.S. schoolchildren show signs or symptoms of mental health disorders. Teachers, parents, and providers are all getting better at recognizing and talking with children and teens about these issues, but stigma and concerns about privacy can still complicate our efforts to help. Let’s rededicate ourselves to reaching out to the young people in our care by learning more about this timely topic.
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