In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported as many as one in five American children under the age of 17 have a diagnosable behavioral health disorder in any given year. Behavioral health is the scientific study of the emotions, behaviors and biology relating to a person’s mental well-being, their ability to function in every day life and their concept of self. “Behavioral health” is the preferred term to “mental health.” A person struggling with his or her behavioral health may face stress, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, addiction, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or learning disabilities, mood disorders, or other psychological concerns. Behavioral health disorders in children often result in changes in the way children typically learn, behave or handle their emotions.
Like all serious health conditions, behavioral health disorders require ongoing treatment. Most behavioral health disorders are caused by a combination of factors and cannot be prevented. Parents and caregivers experience many different emotions when their child is diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder. Some of these emotions include fear, embarrassment and guilt. Early detection and treatment is helpful in preventing or minimizing the many distressing and disabling effects of a behavioral health disorder. Without treatment, many behavioral health disorders can continue into adulthood and lead to more severe problems.
The DC Collaborative for Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care created the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Resource Guide for use by pediatric primary care providers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This guide provides a comprehensive list of community behavioral health resources for children and adolescents in the District of Columbia.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) developed fact sheets and resource publications for various behavioral health disorders, including ADHD, Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Schizophrenia. These resources are available at this link.
For more information about local behavioral health resources for children and youth, please contact AJE at (202) 678-8060 or www.aje-dc.org.