My kids do not have genetics on their side. Depression and anxiety run on both sides of the family. Turns out that they might not be alone. More than a quarter of all Americans have a mental disorder at some point in their lives, according to a 2004 study by the World Health Organization.
Hopefully they’ll dodge the bullet (and I’ll stop seeing every temper tantrum as a future psychosis). Of course, it didn’t help to learn that mental health problems aren’t just for adults. Turns out many young children—even preschoolers—suffer. Research suggests that 11-15 percent of children under the age of 18 have a diagnosable mental disorder.
So, how do you know? A new study by a researcher here at FPG tested a simple and inexpensive mental health screening process designed to flag potential signs of more serious problem. It was found to be a valid and reliable instrument for use in preschool screening of children who are at risk of problems of attention behavior, language and emotions that might interfere with their adjustment at school.
The good news is that there are now tools that can identify potential problems at a young age. Knowing these things can be hereditary can be helpful too. We know the signs and when outside attention might be needed. And people are much more willing to talk about mental health problems today than a generation ago.
The research summary is online. The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child also has interesting new data on children’s anxious and fearful behavior.