According to a new report released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), behavioral and emotional problems decreased among nearly one-third (31 percent) of young children with mental health challenges within the first 6 months after entering services through systems of care program. The report, Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Young Children and Their Families, describes the academic, social, and emotional performance outcomes of children ages 8 and younger receiving services in systems of care. These SAMHSA-funded systems of care programs provide family-driven and culturally and linguistically competent services and supports to children and youth with mental health challenges and their families.
The national evaluation of systems of care program also found that nearly one-third of caregivers of young children with mental health challenges reported less strain 6 months after their children entered services in a system of care. Specifically, these caregivers reported less strain in areas such as the caregiver feeling sad/unhappy or isolated, as well as disruptions of family routines and missed work/neglected duties as a result of their child’s emotional or behavioral problems. Evaluation results indicate that this individualized, tailored approach for establishing early interventions for young children with mental health challenges benefits all—children, families and caregivers, and the community.
“The earlier we recognize a child’s mental health needs, the sooner we can help,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Early recognition and intervention can prevent years of disability and help children and families thrive. All parents should learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in early childhood; furthermore, they should seek help for their child’s mental health problems with the same urgency as any other health condition.”
The SAMHSA report also referenced research studies that illustrate the need to address mental health during early child development. These findings show that young children who enter kindergarten with effective social skills generally have an easier time developing relationships with peers and do better in school; and young children who receive effective, age-appropriate mental health services and supports are more likely to complete high school, have fewer contacts with law enforcement, and improve their ability to live independently and productively.
The report was released on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, SAMHSA’s annual celebration of the importance of caring for every child’s mental health, and as part of the agency’s observance of Mental Health Month. Awareness Day, part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative on public awareness and support, is a collaboration among more than 80 organizations and Federal agencies and programs working to provide greater access to community-based mental health services and supports for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Nationwide, more than 1,000 communities also celebrated this annual observance with local events, art activities, youth rallies, and social networking campaigns to raise awareness of children’s mental health in their communities.
To download Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Young Children and Their Families and view the full list of field references, visit www.samhsa.gov/children.
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office