New data shows more Adams County kids getting help with mental health issues

Image: MGN

Children's mental health has often carried a stigma and created a lack of discussion among the public according to mental health experts, But a new eight-year study initiated across Illinois, including Adams County, has proven to decrease that stigma through significant planning and support for children suffering from mental health.

According to the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation who funded the $12 million program, 48% of people in the US will develop a mental health disorder at some point in their life, and for 50% of the onset will be before age 14 (the end of childhood.)

Since 2010, ICHF funded four communities with $2.85 million each to create what they call an integrated and sustainable mental health systems across schools, primary healthcare and community organizations.

Adams County Children's Mental Health Partnership (ACCMHP), along with Quincy Public Schools was one such community to receive the funding.

What CMHI is calling initiative"1.0" they reported all four communities reported an impressive reduction of stigma related to mental health as a result of their projects. The other three communities were Livingston County, the City of Springfield and the four county area of Carroll, Lee, Ogle and Whiteside.

Heather Alderman, ILCHF President said the program has created a great network for communities to support and tackle mental health at a young and critical age:

"We have learned that when we trust and support individual communities to develop mental health systems of care in ways that work uniquely for them, great things will happen. We are optimistic that other communities can learn from CMHI 1.0 and continue to imporve the health of their children," said Alderman.

The process of screening children just eight years ago was nearly non-existent, fewer than 6% of children were screened for mental health. In 2017, Quincy Public Schools began screening 100% of children during school registration.

CMHI says that the failure to provide children with comprehensive mental health care is a public health crisis in the United States, with approximately 22% of children 13- to 18-years of age experience impairment related to mental illness. CMHI says the median age of onset for anxiety disorders is six-years-old, followed by 11-years-old for behavioral disorders, 13-years-old for mood disorders, and 5-years-old for substance for use disorders.

The lack of support for early mental health disorders and treatment is alarming according to the report. National estimates suggesting that fewer than one in eight children with identified mental disorders actually receive any treatment and only 50% of children with behavioral problems are identified.

According to the report, each of the four communities received an initial grant of $2 million over five years to implement, monitor and evaluate its system of care.

Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb says it's important to let kids know they have a place to be heard.

"Kids need to understand that everybody needs help from time to time. We all deal with depression, we all deal with being upset at different times and having the proper tools to deal with that is important," said Webb.

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