Mental Health Policies For Children Living In Poverty

2344 words - 10 pages

Mental Health is a common topic in all agenda’s in the United States. It is currently looked at broadly across all segments of health; in fact, over the years there have been multiple approaches to addressing the needs of the population affected by lack of mental health or that have prominent mental health disorders. Over the past century the United States has been especially concerned about the mental health problems of our children and youth (Tuma, 1989). Worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders (World Health Organization [WHO], 2014). This topic has been so important to the extent that as early as 1909, the white house conference on children recommended new programs to care for mentally disturbed children (Tuma, 1989), but the process seems to continue to be in planning phases with some advancement in mental health policies for children. One hundred years later, the surgeon general national agenda for children’s health, the president’s new freedom commission on mental health and the American Psychological Association are all pushing efforts to address children’s mental health issues (Odar et al, 2013). More so, the stakeholders mentioned above agree on the fact that there is a large gap between the mental health needs of children and the supports and services that are available to meet those needs (Tolan and Dodge, 2005). However, in spite of many different approaches Tolan and Dodge (2005) state that “Children’s mental health continues to be neglected even with growing scientific evidence of the importance of mental health in children’s development” this is occurring specially within the primary developmental systems such as pediatric care and school, and of efficacy of interventions for children who are at risk of or exhibiting substantial mental health problems (Tolan and Dodge, 2005). Therefore, significant changes and improvement is needed in the mental health support systems for children, in general; more so, for those living in poverty.
In the United States, over 20% of children under the age of 18 are officially “poor” (Yoshikawa, et al. 2012); in other words, they live in households with incomes below the federal poverty line. To know this is important because poverty is considered a critical risk factor for many mental, emotional and behavioral disorders of children and youth (Yoshikawa, et al. 2012). According to Minujin, et al. (2005), “UNICEF defines child poverty as the deprivation of social services. To expand a little more on this, the concept is that children living in poverty are those who are deprived from the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society (Minujin, et al. 2005). More importantly many studies have associated poverty with a range of negative outcomes for children in all social, emotional and cognitive areas of...

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