Mental Illness & Children

by Lisa Frederiksen

According to a recent tweet by NAMIMass (National Alliance of Mental Illness Massachusetts), 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, 75% by age 24. As mental illness is one of the key risk factors for developing a substance abuse problem and/or an addiction to alcohol or drugs, I wanted to use this post to raise awareness about childhood mental illness.

According to WebMD’s Mental Illness in Children, “[i]dentifying mental disorders in children can be tricky for health care providers. Children differ from adults in that they experience many physical, mental, and emotional changes as they progress through their natural growth and development. They also are in the process of learning how to cope with, adapt, and relate to others and the world around them. Further, each child matures at his or her own pace, and what is considered ‘normal’ in children falls within a wide range of behavior and abilities. For these reasons, any diagnosis of a mental disorder must consider how well a child functions at home, within the family, at school, and with peers, as well as the child’s age and symptoms.” WebMD’s Mental Illness in Children provides a wealth of additional information on this very important issue, including:

•  How Mental Illness in Children is Diagnosed
•  How It is Treated
•  Side Effects of Medications
•  Outlook for Children with Mental Health Disorders
•  Research Being Done

Doctors, teachers and others who work with children to screen for mental disorders in children now have a “powerful, evidenced based screening tool” – The Reach Institute’s “Action Signs,” which was recently endorsed for wording and use by the Center for Mental Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Click the following link to download: Action! Signs Toolkit

Additionally — all concerned should bookmark the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)’s site for Child and Adolescent Mental Health — a tremendous resource on so many levels.

Related Post to the Role of Mental Illness as a Risk Factor for Substance Abuse / Addiction:

Secondhand Drinking/Drugging (SHDD): Understand It, Prevent It and We Can Go a Long Ways to Reducing Underage Drinking; Addiction

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Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author Speaker Consultant Owner at
Author of nine books and hundreds of articles, Lisa Frederiksen is a national keynote speaker, consultant and founder of She has spent more then a decade researching, writing, speaking and consulting on substance abuse prevention, mental illness, addiction as a brain disease, dual diagnosis, secondhand drinking | drugging, help for the family and related subjects – all centered around 21st century brain and addiction-related research. Her clients (some as far as Kenya, Slovenia and Mexico), include: individuals, families, military troops and personnel, U.S. Forest Service districts and regions, medical school students, businesses, social workers, parent and student groups, family law attorneys, treatment providers and the like. Visit for details. Please feel free to call Lisa at 650-362-3026 or email her at

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