The PATHWAYS Program
"The burden of suffering by children with mental health needs and their families has created a health crisis in this country." -David Satcher, MD, Ph.D. Former U.S. Surgeon General
Mental Health Matters: Trauma and Mental Illness among Youth
The 2000 Report of the Surgeon's General Conference on Children's Mental Health underscored the crisis faced by our nation in meeting the mental health needs of children and adolescents. According to the Report,
- About 1 in 5 young people has a current mental disorder.
- 1 in 10 suffers from a severe mental illness.
- 1 in 8 has a co-occurring substance use or abuse.
- Anxiety, mood, and disruptive disorders are the most commonly-diagnosed conditions among children and adolescents.
The Institute of Medicine (2009) indicated that:
- About 50% of students age 14 and older who drop out of high school have a mental disorder.
- Sixty-five percent of boys and 75% of girls in juvenile detention have at least one mental illness.
Despite these startling statistics, addressing the complex mental health needs of young people remains a major challenge across the country. About 79% of youth aged 6 to 17 with mental disorders do not receive appropriate care (Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). Only 1 in 5 children with mental illness receives any care.
Black and Latino youth are at particular risk for experiencing traumatic life events and developing mental illness. They are also more likely to receive suspension and more punitive consequences for their behaviors, compared to white students (Children's Defense Fund, 2007). It is well documented that suspension is an ineffective form of disciplinary response to student behavioral problems (American Psychological Association, 2006) and can, in fact, reinforce unwanted behaviors for students who have limited supervision at home and are exposed to adverse environments.
Overuse of suspension, particularly with ethnic minority students and for minor infractions, does not increase school safety, but instead has deleterious effects on student academic outcomes. Chronic truancy and school suspensions are major risk indicators for ethnic minority students' high drop-out rate and failure to graduate. Yet, these youth are less likely to receive mental health services; less likely to remain in counseling; and more likely to receive inappropriate, inadequate, or fragmented mental health care (Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).