New research proves teens are having much more difficulty with navigating complex emotions due to an unprecedented rise in childhood mental illness. What’s worse, research from last year discovered that a record-setting seven percent of high schoolers attempted to take their own lives.
The illuminating study released in JAMA Pediatrics found that nearly 8 million children (7.7 million) live with at least one type of serious mental illness. This astounding number of teens accounts for roughly 16.5 percent of all American teenagers.
To make matters even more alarming, the study found that only about half of those children receive mental health treatment from a psychiatric professional.
Why Are Only Half of America’s 7.7 Million Children Receiving Adequate Mental Health Treatment?
According to Danielle Ranazzisi, a Ph.D., child psychologist currently practicing in New York, the disparity in mental health care and mentally ill children are more complex than previously thought.
In a recent interview with Healthline, Doctor Rannazzisi explained that it’s not “just about a lack of access to mental health care.” She goes on to explain that another component in this teenage mental health crisis has to do with parents failing to recognize “behaviors” that are actually symptomatic of a legitimate mental health disorder. Dr. Ranazzisi says that parents often confuse depression and anxiety disorders for “run of the mill” “feelings of blue,” or “teenage nervousness.”
Dr. Rannazzisi and other leading child psychologists with her pedigree urge parents to pay more attention to “warning signs” and “potential symptoms” in their child’s behavior that may indicate an undiagnosed, severe mental illness.
The stigma of Mental Illness Prevents Many from Seeking Treatment (even for their child)
While this may come as a shock to some parents, another contributing factor as to why parents fail to seek treatment for their mentally ill child has to do with how mental illness is perceived by others. In other words, the fear of their child being stigmatized by society, and perhaps, by extension, themselves, prevents millions of parents to seek out necessary psychiatric treatment for their ‘highly at-risk’ son or daughter.
On the topic of parents yielding to the stigmatization of mental health disorders, Dr. Rannazzisi explains, “There are still negative connotations associated with mental illness that discourage people from admitting that they are in need of treatment and seeking it out.”
In defense of some parents’ actions (or lack thereof) Rannazzisi says that some parents worry about their child being labled with a culturally demonized and misunderstood diagnosis that, in their minds, might follow their child throughout adulthood.
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Signs that Dr. Rannazzisi says might be symptomatic of mental health-related illnesses
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