Understanding Mental Health

Our children's mental health is critical to their ability to thrive. For children, mental health includes their ability to realize their potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, learn productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to their community as adults.

Yet, it is common for children to experience some bumps along the way from infancy, through adolescence, and into adulthood. Young people may encounter emotions, feelings or behaviors that cause problems in their lives and the lives of those around them. A mental health condition is not the result of one event: a variety of factors can contribute to a child developing a condition and needing extra support.

Identifying and providing support for mental health issues during childhood is crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the promise of recovery. Studies tell us that half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14, many beginning much earlier. Three-quarters of all mental health conditions develop by age 24.

The resources at the bottom of this page provide general information for families, professionals, and youth seeking to learn more about mental wellness and common disorders. For more specific resources, see our pages on Child Mental Health, Young Adult Mental Health, Family Support and Evidence-Based Treatment.

General Information

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: AACAP widely distributes information in an effort to promote an understanding of mental illnesses and remove the stigma associated with them, advance efforts in prevention of mental illnesses, and assure proper treatment and access to services for children and adolescents.
American Psychiatric Association: APA is an organization of psychiatrists working together to ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental disorders, including intellectual disabilities and substance use disorders. This is the voice and conscience of modern psychiatry.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI is a grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.
NIH National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with the mission to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
MentalHealth.gov: MentalHealth.gov is a one-stop access to U.S. government information on mental health. This is an education site that aims to educate and guide the general public, health and emergency preparedness professionals, policy makers, government and business leaders, school systems, and local communities.
Mental Health America: MHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. They are driven by their commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including early detection and treatment.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. Their mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. This website has information about mental disorders, services, and specific research.
KidsHealth: KidsHealth focuses on giving information to parents, kids, and teens in simple, understandable language. It provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.
PsychCentral: PsychCentral is a comprehensive website covering the field of psychology. It has information and helpful resources, including treatment options, psychology blogs, and Q&A.


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