Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mental Health Matters to Latinos #SpeakUpForKids

In case you missed yesterday's blog post - this week is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week and the Child Mind Institute is honoring it's 2nd annual Speak Up For Kids campaign.

And after yesterday's conference and reading through all the materials - I am dedicating this week to help raise awareness and to Speak Up For Kids.

I just want to share some startling mental health facts:
  • More than 15 million American children & adolescents have diagnosable psychiatric disorders - more than the number affected by leukemia, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
    • Approximately 50% of these kids will never get help. 
  • Anxiety Disorders appear to affect girls more than boys.
  • Untreated depression is one of the leading causes of teen suicide.
    • Some 80% of cases can be readily and successfully treated if kids get help.
  • ADHD is the most common psychiatric condition affecting children
    • ADHD is diagnosed more frequently in boys than girls
    • Children with ADHD drop out of high school 10 times more than other children.
    • Untreated, kids with ADHD are more likely to drop out of school, develop a substance abuse problem, or get in trouble with the law.
  • It's estimated that learning disorders may impact anywhere from 5 to 20% of all children - as many as 1 in 5 in every classroom.
    • Only 64% of students with diagnosed learning disorders graduate from high school.  Their drop out rate is nearly 3 times that of students in the general population
    • Working-age adults with learning disorders face higher unemployment rates. 
At yesterday's press conference, we discussed the stigma of mental health.  I believe within the Latino community the stigma and shame of mental health is even greater.

In reading the mental health facts - I wondered how many Latino children went without help they needed.  And I found some startling statistics of my own:   
Suicide attempt rates among Latina high school students in New York have nearly doubled since 2007, reports El Diario/La Prensa. A recent study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of 9,469 New York high school students found that nearly 15 percent, or one in six, Latina students attempted suicide one or more times in 2009. Significantly higher than African-American women (10.2%) and young Caucasian women (6.2%) (source)
High school drop out rates tend to be higher in cities with high socioeconomic disparities and racial segregation. "Epicenters of the dropout crisis are made up of a combination of traditional big-city districts and large countywide school systems. Many of the latter are home to major urban centers," Education Week reported.  "The New York City public school system, the nation's largest district, serves 1.1 million students and predictably emerges as the leading source of non graduates, with nearly 44,000 students slipping away each year." (source)
I am not saying that the Latina suicide rate or that the NYC drop out rates are all linked to mental health but I definitely believe it's a factor.  Poverty, lack of education/awareness, and social stigma all play into the fact that many individuals go without the help they need to live a productive and happy life. 

I wonder how many of these kids went undiagnosed and untreated. 

I wonder how many parents believed their daughters were just being dramatic or if it was just a phase.

I wonder how many parents believed their child would just "grow out of it."

I wonder how many non graduates were called lazy or stupid.

And I wonder how many parents just didn't know what to look for in their children.  Or if they recognized something was wrong - maybe they just didn't know where to go.  Maybe they thought they couldn't afford help.

One of the great things about the Child Mind Institute is that they really want to help children and families - and they don't want money to get in the way.  For families and children with financial need they offer a sliding scale fee and financial aid. 

I think it's important for us to realize that it's okay to get help.  There is no shame in needing mental health treatment.  The only shame is allowing it to go untreated.

Tonight (Tuesday, May 8) at 7PM ET, the Child Mind Institute (@ChildMindDotOrg) will be hosting a tweet chat in honor of Children's Mental Health Awareness Week on Parenting in the Digital Age.

I'll be participating on tonight's Tweet chat - with bullying moving from the playground to cyberspace - it's critical that parents know how to protect their children.

And on Friday, May 11, at 12PM ET the Child Mind Institute will be hosting a live Speak Up for Kids talk on Facebook in honor of Children's Mental Health Awareness Week.

For more events please visit the Events page on Child Mind Institute - http://www.childmind.org/en/events/ 

1 comment:

  1. Horrible statistics. I'm sure many students go undiagnosed and parents don't understand what they are going through. Wish I could join the tweetchat but I'm going to an event tonight!


AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.