Mental health support needed before adulthood


Mental health support needed before adulthood

By Brooke Pawling Stennett

Many actors long for the same success Emma Stone achieved after her 2010 film “Easy A” garnered a widespread fanbase and critical acclaim. Stone said in a Jan. 26 The Hollywood Reporter interview that the success of “Easy A” was like being 7 years old again, except not in the typical, carefree way. 

“It terrified me,” she told THR. Stone said when she was younger she was prone to panic attacks and debilitating shyness, but that’s “just the way she’s wired,” adding that her parents put her in therapy at 7, which helped. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. The research shows children with anxiety who go untreated have a higher risk of performing poorly in school, tend to miss out on social experiences and are more likely to engage in substance abuse. 

Children suffering from a disorder limiting interactions with their peers could miss out on formative experiences, Stone’s comments can go a long way in getting society to acknowledge their silent suffering.

It isn’t only the parents who need to address panic and debilitating shyness in their children. Teachers, principals and other parents can learn to recognize the signs of panic disorders, even if they don’t have the medical qualifications required to diagnose and treat mental health issues. 

According to the Child’s Mind Institute—a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families and children struggling with mental health disorders—some of the indicators to look for in children are descriptions of heart attack-like symptoms, a sudden and overwhelming fear of death and an intense desire to flee, along with other physical symptoms such as nausea and dizziness. After a panic attack, children may be fearful of a recurrence, which will lead them to avoid situations they think might trigger an attack.

Effective examples of teaching both the public and children to cope with mental health issues include conducting a youth summit as The Colorado Office of Behavioral Health did. Both children and adults attended the summit for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which culminated in a “Stigma Jam,” where children presented the art they created. However, programs such as these need to happen regularly to promote ways to respond to children’s mental health. 

The public should not underestimate a child’s need for medical support. It takes more than just a parent’s willingness to eradicate the social stigma surrounding mental illness. School districts, political leaders and the media must also make an effort to eradicate the stigma to ensure children have the right support to thrive.