Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Panel Calls for Focus on Untreated Mental Illness

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Panel Calls for Focus on Untreated Mental Illness

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Child obesity and overweight are exacerbating the crisis in untreated child mental illness, according to an expert panel of physicians and health leaders.

Nearly 17% of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, an estimated 20% are affected by some type of mental disorder during the lifetime, according to a recent survey by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Yet, only about half of young people with a mental health disorder were treated for that disorder in the past year, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

"In addition to the increased medical problems associated with being overweight, these children and adolescents suffer from a higher prevalence of psychological problems resulting in poor academic performance, low self-esteem, depressive disorders, and a greater number of suicide attempts," according to officials at Arizona State University, Phoenix, who organized the panel.

"We should not forget that obesity and mental health affects every single segment of our society," said former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona during the event, titled "America's Children at Peril: Solving the Child Obesity and Mental Health Epidemics."

"What is lacking in the national agenda is dealing with the mental health and the overweight issue," said Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, Ph.D., dean and distinguished foundation professor in nursing at ASU

There are other barriers, including primary care physician shortage, lack of incentives, poor reimbursement, and lack of training, according to the panelists. …

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