Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, May 1-7, has Mesa-based A New Leaf sharing knowledge to help local families.
Amanda Walker, a clinician at A New Leaf, helps children and teens who face emotional and mental challenges through the organization’s Counseling Centers and After School Programs. She shares warning signs for mental or emotional challenged children, provides advice for parents, teachers and coaches to help children, and more.
“Warning signs are a noticeable decline in a child’s functioning of day-to-day life. Examples include a decline in social interactions at home or school, inability to complete homework, inability to have meaningful relationships, losing interest in once-loved hobbies, or other activities,” Walker said. “As a child grows, there will be changes in all of these areas in different ways, but a caregiver can always trust their gut instinct if they feel something is ‘just not right.’”
Some staggering statistics:
- Of the 74.5 million children in the United States, an estimated 17.1 million have or have had a psychiatric disorder – more than the number of children with cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
- Half of all psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 14 and 75 percent by the age of 24.
- What are the most common psychiatric disorder in children? 31.9 percent anxiety, 19.6 percent ADHD and severe disruptive behaviors, 14.3 percent bipolar and depression and 2.7 percent eating disorders.
A New Leaf is a 45-year community nonprofit organization, providing housing, health and community services to residents of Maricopa County.