Tag Archive for 'public health'

Recommendations for ending discrimination

Book cover, courtesy NAP

The U.S. National Academy Press published a book 20 April 2016 entitled Ending Discrimination Against People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders: The Evidence for Stigma Change that assembles and summarizes recommendations about how to reduce negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors directed toward individuals who have mental health or substance abuse disorders. Although the bulk of the document addresses stigma in a general way and primarily with reference to research on adults, one section focuses specifically on stigma against children and youths, calling it “a serious concern because of its short-term impacts, including decreased feelings of self-worth and willingness to enter treatment, and because of the deleterious long-term effects of untreated mental illness or substance use disorders” (p. 2-13).

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US report: Up to 1 in 5 children experience a mental disorder

In a report released 16 May 2013, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2013) indicated that as many as 13-20% of US children experience a mental disorder annually. The CDC based it’s estimate on the familiar report of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2009) as well as other data gathered more recently. These are broad-scope data that incorporate a wide array of mental disorders, but they help to capture the range of issues that confront mental health services.

According to the CDC estimates,

Data collected from a variety of data sources between the years 2005-2011 show:
Children aged 3-17 years currently had:

  • ADHD (6.8%)
  • Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
  • Anxiety (3.0%)
  • Depression (2.1%)
  • Autism spectrum disorders (1.1%)
  • Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)

Adolescents aged 12–17 years had:

  • Illicit drug use disorder in the past year (4.7%)
  • Alcohol use disorder in the past year (4.2%)
  • Cigarette dependence in the past month (2.8%)

There is much that can be done to help. It can’t be done without the help of concerned adults who lobby, vote, and work hard otherwise on behalf of our children.


National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. Washington, DC: The National Academic Press; 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Mental health surveillance among children – United States, 2005—2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(Suppl; May 16, 2013), 1-35.

CEC pre-conf session on MH and PBIS

The Council for Exceptional Children will host an “Institute on School-based Mental Health and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports” prior to its annual convention in Denver in April 2012. Readers of EBD Blog understand the importance of MH and its connections with schools for many students. This session, chaired by Krista Kutash and George Sugai, promises to help educators make and strengthen appropriate connections. Learn more about building positive bridges between mental health and positive school environments.

Virginia campaign promotes action agenda

The Campaign for Children’s Mental Health outlined an agenda for improving mental health policy for children and youths in the US commonwealth of Virginia on 14 June 2011. The “Action Agenda” expresses the need for Govenor Bob McDonnell to exert leadership in three policy areas so that the problems of 100,000 minors with mental health issues are addressed:

  • Children with mental health disorders and their families need to have a full array of high quality treatment and support services in their own communities, no matter where in Virginia they reside.
  • Children with serious mental health disorders who require public sector services need to have access to the same array of services regardless of payment source or custody status in order to maximize the impact of and curb inappropriate use of public dollars in the treatment system.
  • Children with mental health disorders and their families should be recognized and included as experts on their own and their children’s treatment needs.

Visit the 1 in 5 Website (see it over in the sidebar, too) and download the full statement of the Action Agenda.

I am very glad to have and I hope others will join me in signing a petition to support this effort. Isn’t it great to have this effort right here in Virginia? Do you have similar efforts in the area where you live?

The Congressional Mental Health Caucus

Sadly, mental health has been in the US news of late. I’m reminded that in the US legislature there is the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, which takes as its goals reducing negativism and stigma, aiding efforts to access mental health services, improving work-related productivity, and protecting veterans who have mental health problems. Although the caucus does not explicitly state child mental health as a focus of concern, it has supported awareness efforts such as National Children’s Mental Health Day.
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FDA warns seller of chelation product

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to the producer of a product that is sometimes used by people hoping to eliminate heavy metals from children’s bodies (e.g., chelate mercury from children with autism). In a letter addressed to Boyd D. Haley of CTI Science Inc., Teresa C. Thompson of the Cincinnati District Office of the FDA cited a host of problems in the classification and marketing of the product, OSR#1. Among these problems are the following:
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Ethnicity and Autism?

Thanks to a comment by reader DrFoo (AKA ‘Rollen’), I was alerted to an interesting study about variation in the rates of Autism in different ethnic populations. The news releases say that the incidence of Autism among Hispanics is lower than it is among non-Hispanic white peers.

These news releases refer to a study entitled “Explaining Low Rates of Autism Among Hispanic Schoolchildren in Texas” by Raymond Palmer and colleagues. Here’s the abstract:

In data from the Texas Educational Agency and the Health Resources and Services Administration, we found fewer autism diagnoses in school districts with higher percentages of Hispanic children. Our results are consistent with previous reports of autism rates 2 to 3 times as high among non-Hispanic Whites as among Hispanics. Socioeconomic factors failed to explain lower autism prevalence among Hispanic schoolchildren in Texas. These findings raise questions: Is autism underdiagnosed among Hispanics? Are there protective factors associated with Hispanic ethnicity?

I’ve not had time to examine the issue closely, but I have a few links:

The full citation is close to what follows…

Palmer, R. F., Walker, T., Mandell, D., Bayles, B., Miller, C. S. (2009). Explaining low rates of autism among Hispanic schoolchildren in Texas. American Journal of Public Health, 100, pp-to-come. 10.2105/AJPH.2008.150565

Virginia Campaign for Children’s Mental Health

Twelve key children’s services for community services boards
  1. specialized children’s emergency services;
  2. crisis stabilization;
  3. evaluations for Comprehensive Services Act services;
  4. psychiatric/medication;
  5. office-based mental health therapy;
  6. office-based substance abuse therapy;
  7. mental health case management;
  8. intellectual disabilities case management;
  9. substance abuse case management;
  10. home-based behavioral treatment and support for families;
  11. school-based day treatment; and
  12. local residential services.

Right here in my home commonwealth of Virginia last week, Mira Signe, Vicki Hardy-Murrell, John Morgan, and Margaret Nimmo Crowe explained why it is important that government and private organizations attend to and address issues in children’s mental health. By explaining that Virginia has inadequate services and that one in every five children or youths experience mental health problems at some time during their lives, they made the point that that there is a tremendous need for public focus on these issues. This was the kick-off event for the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health.

The Campaign for Children’s Mental Health is a 3-year sustained effort to make mental health services more available and accessible to Virginia children in need. It will strongly endorse Governor-elect McDonnell’s call for system improvements; urge the General Assembly and state and local government to work collaboratively with the administration to address system deficiencies; and conduct a high-profile three-year advocacy and education drive to build public and political support for improved mental health services for children.

Only about one in 20 of Virginia’s children have access to the key services listed in the accompanying box. So, four out of five children who need these services do not have access to them.

No, Virginia, this is not an acceptable way to treat our children. Let’s do better.