Contributed by Kathryn LaMontagne, MS CCC-SLP, CEIS, Director of the Early Intervention Certificate Program
Today, May 4th, is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, a national day organized through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to focus on integrating behavioral health and primary care for young people. This is a day to bring some staggering but important facts to light: 17.1 million children, or one in five, suffer from a mental health or learning disorder. 80% of chronic mental disorders begin in childhood. For example, 75% of ADHD manifests by age eight and 75% of social phobia is evident by age 15. These are disorders of childhood and adolescence that, if left untreated, will have a drastic effect on students’ ability to learn and function in the school environment.
We know that mental health and learning disorders can lead to office discipline referrals, school avoidance, suspension and being left back. They can also cause students to drop out of school entirely. For example, anxiety disorders like social phobia can make students twice as likely to drop out or fail a grade. The consequences of these problems down the road are serious: underemployment or unemployment, prison, and a reduced quality of life. With these statistics, we know that prevention and early intervention can make a difference.
On days like today, I take a few minutes to reflect on my own career in Early Intervention. I am grateful that I get to help families prevent and intervene at the earliest of times when children are under the age of three. In Early Intervention, we work with children when their brains are growing and developing the most so I like to think that this is the perfect time to change the course of these mental health and learning disorders and set children up for a lifetime of resiliency and success. With so much early childhood adversity, the need is great and we need more mental health professionals to work in Early Intervention and help us take on this challenge.
Do you think you would be interested in taking on this challenging and meaningful work? The Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Early Intervention Certificate combination program here at Bay Path University can set you on this meaningful career path. The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is an accelerated program that will provide you with comprehensive education and training in the field of mental health counseling, preparing you for eventual licensure as a Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). It will prepare you to serve infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays, or who are at risk for developmental delay, and their families. For more information, check out the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Certificate in Early Intervention.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day than by committing to become an agent of change for our children’s mental health.
Source: Child Mind Institute, Inc. (2016). 2016 Child Mind Institute children’s mental health report. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from: https://childmind.org/report/2016-childrens-mental-health-report/