Mental Illness, Youth, and Lessons from Residential Treatment Centers

Mental Illness, Youth, and Lessons from Residential Treatment Centers

Krista Allison (University of Phoenix, USA) and Chris Allison (Southwest Baptist University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0778-9.ch005


This chapter explores mental illness in children and youth. In addition to understanding who is affected, this chapter seeks to express a holistic and comprehensive approach to physical, mental, and spiritual health. Research in each of these areas is discussed and relevant stories are presented from the authors' combined 10 years of experience in various residential treatment centers. Additionally, practical tools for families, educators, and clinicians are discussed. The purpose of this chapter is to increase awareness of the struggles mentally ill children endure and equip families, educators, and clinicians with practical tools for assisting children with mental illnesses.
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Who Is Affected And How?

Children and Youth

Depression, anxiety and mental illness has risen among children, adolescents and young adults in recent years. By some estimates, the number of high school and college students meeting the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or an anxiety disorder is five to eight times what it was a half century ago (Gray, 2010). Depression and anxiety often have side effects including irritability, restlessness, fatigue, physical ailments, and difficulty concentrating. With these side effects, learning and maturing may become unbearable.

In addition to depression and anxiety, the number of school age children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder (CD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is rising (CDC, 2015; Hamilton & Armondo, 2008). For instance, the diagnosis of ADHD rose from about 8 percent in 2003 to 11 percent in 2011 (CDC, 2015). In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests one in five youth aged 13-18 has experienced a severe mental disorder (2015).

Children are directly affected by these mental illnesses. Disruptive behavior, outbursts, aggression, lying and stealing are some of the indicators of these disorders (CDC, 2015). As the number of students with these conditions rise, parents, clinicians and educators alike will face a great number of challenges. These challenges can result in a great number of opportunities to assist individuals and institutions seeking to meet the changing needs of our population.

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