Mental health problems affect approximately 14 million children and adolescents in the United States. These mental health disorders are not specific to gender, race, or socioeconomic status. When children and adolescents do not receive the care that they need when they are young, they are more likely to be dependent on mental health and other social services, such as therapy, when they are adults. With statistics like this, it is critical that children and adolescents receive the proper diagnoses and support for an optimal chance for them to recover.

The unmet need for mental health care is unfortunately very high for children and adolescents – 79% of adolescents, ages 6 to 17 years old, do not receive the services they need. This can be for a variety of reasons:

• Discrimination attached to seeking help
• Cultural belief
• Access to services
• Availability of providers
• Not knowing where to start
• Confusion about whom to see

There are many resources available online, through the school system, community centers, and healthcare providers that can point parents in the right direction to have their child or adolescent evaluated for a mental health concern. Community-based services go beyond talk therapy, but therapy is a good place to start.

When it comes to a diagnosis, it can be challenging to distinguish between whether a child or adolescent is acting like a typical child or if there is an underlying disorder. There is also much overlap in the symptoms of many disorders that are most prevalent in this age group. Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and ADHD are the most common mental health issues experienced. 

The treatment of mental health can include a variety of different approaches and can occur in many different settings. Services usually depend on the needs of the child or adolescent and their family, and the diagnosis and severity of the issue. They may consist of many treatment options such as evaluation, psychotherapy, counseling, applied behavior analysis, medication management, and case management for children and their families. 

A correct diagnosis is so important. Giving a child or adolescent a mental health diagnosis with medication can have potentially harmful consequences. If the diagnosis is not right, then treatment may not work or have serious negative effects. 

At Aloha Integrative Health, our patient care specialists are here to help you and your child or adolescent navigate mental health issues. We have several clinicians on staff that specialize in child, adolescent, and family services. Reach out today to request a consultation and see if we can offer the right support for your child’s needs.


About the Author

Kimberly Sandberg Aloha Integrative Health
Kim Sandberg is the owner and founder of Aloha Integrative Health and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She has two advanced degrees: a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Anesthetist and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She has worked in a variety of settings, though the biggest impact on Kim and her work came from her 28 years of service in the Navy Reserve.

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