Mental illness and emotional dysfunction clearly have a high cost to our society, individual lives, and the lives of those around us. Rates of diagnosable disorders, suicide, and disability continue to rise. Each can cause substantial effects on our world as a whole.


The following statistics from the CDC (2011) indicate the severity of the problem:

  • Mental illness accounts for a higher percentage of adult disability than any other illness, including cancer and heart disease.
  • In 2004, 25% of adults in the United States reported some mental illness in the preceding year.
  • More than half of adults in the United States will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives.

(Information from CDC: “Mental Illness Surveillance Among Adults in the United States” Supplements; September 2, 2011 / 60(03);1-32; William C. Reeves, MD lead author.)

Mental illness is not limited to adults. Rather, it can affect anyone, of any age, and at any time. Pediatric and adolescent psychiatrists aim to help treat mental illness and emotional dysfunction from an early age. Pediatric and adolescent psychiatrists may help with communication, involvement in relationships, emotional stability, healthy life activities, coping skills, and more. The treatment team will often include therapists and others to create a well-rounded treatment plan that will never be limited to just medication.

Even here in Utah, we see some of the highest rates of suicide in the country. And, unfortunately, the issue continues to worsen. Every day, child and adolescent psychiatrists see the cost of mental illness in patients and their families. The goal in working with pediatric patients is to improve the lives of patients and those around them. The hope in this field is to begin corrective treatment as early as possible to begin helping individuals and family, and to repair and strengthen relationships. Proper treatment can help avoid the lifelong effects associated with mental illness. Working with children in psychiatry has potential improve multiple lives.

Important tips to remember:

  1. Be aware of your children’s lives. Ask questions and be an active listener.
  2. Act on any concerns you might have. The longer emotional instability occurs, the more difficult it is to treat. Seek consultation early.
  3. Lock up or remove harmful objects in the home if you are concerned about suicide in a loved one.
  4. Remember that you are not alone. There is a myriad of helpful organizations such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) physicians, counselors, and programs that offer education, understanding, and help for patients and their parents or caregivers.

Michael S. Connolly, MD is a board certified psychiatrist specializing in child and adolescent and young adult psychiatry. He practices at Granger Medical Clinic in Draper, Utah. Appointments can be made by calling 801.576.2075.

 

Originally printed in Granger Medical Clinic’s magazine, Spring 2014.