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Albany, NY: 20% of teens are "living with a mental health condition"; they're going to need services

May 12, 2018, Albany (NY) Herald: Growing need exists for pediatric mental health services—National Alliance on Mental Illness says 50 percent of all chronic illness begins before age 14 Anxiety, conduct disorder, ADHD, depression, substance abuse, trauma, physical and sexual abuse, and cyberbullying are among the issues young people face that impact their mental health. Often, the children and their parents may not know where to turn. Anger, aggression, hopelessness, fatigue, fidgeting, irritability, loss of appetite, mood swings, restlessness, cutting, paranoia, changes in weight and isolation may be among the responses parents see in their children. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, says that 50 percent of all chronic illness begins before age 14, and 75 percent begin by age 24, with 20 percent of all youths ages 13-18 living with a mental health condition. Lisa Spears, child and adolescent coordinator and therapist at Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Services, is based at Aspire’s clubhouse on Dawson Road. The after-school facility serves 136 students who have some kind of mental health diagnosis. … “One in four children has a mental health diagnosis,” Spears said. “That is huge, and those are the children on the radar.” Spears said suicide attempts are taking place at a younger age, as pressure on children has intensified due to social media and the urge to live at a faster pace. … She said ADHD, bipolar, anxiety and depression are the top diagnoses Aspire sees among children. … “The biggest piece is understanding this is a priority at the state level,” she said…. Brands said mental illness is considered a brain disease, with more damage likely to be caused during a crisis. … “There are more kids who are going to need mental health services,” Carden said. “They are not free, and insurance is slow to catch up that it is an important reimbursement.”…

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