National panel calls for action to address mental problems among children
By Staff Writer
More than 200 health professionals recently convened at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to discuss childhood epidemics such as mental health problems and obesity.
The forum, which was sponsored by Arizona State University (ASU), featured a speech from Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the U.S. He said that there is "no choice but to act" in order to find solutions to these widespread issues.
More than 15 million adolescents and children in the U.S. have mental health problems that affect their ability to function at home and at school, but less than 25 percent of these kids receive treatment. Furthermore, about one-third of American children are overweight and nearly half of this group is obese. Experts warned that these children are at risk of developing low self-esteem and depressive disorders - both of which can lead to suicide attempts.
Dr. Peter Jensen, a professor of psychiatry, said that primary care providers must become more involved to fix these problems. Bernadette Melnyk, the dean of ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, recommended that mental health screenings should be integrated into physical healthcare.
Adolescents who suffer from mental health disorders may benefit from wilderess therapy, which aims to provide help for troubled teens.