Young people can have mental, emotional, and behavioral problems that are real, painful, and costly. These problems, often called “disorders,” are sources of stress for children and their families, schools, and communities. The number of young people and their families who are affected by mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders is significant.
It is estimated that as many as one in five children and adolescents may have a mental health disorder that can be identified and require treatment. Mental health disorders in children and adolescents are caused by biology, environment, or a combination of the two.
Examples of biological factors are genetics, chemical imbalances in the body, and damage to the central nervous system, such as a head injury. Many environmental factors also can affect mental health, including exposure to violence, extreme stress, and the loss of an important person.
Families and communities, working together, can help children and adolescents with mental disorders. A broad range of services is often necessary to meet the needs of these young people and their families.