Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) today joined Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to introduce a resolution in the House of Representatives supporting prevention of mental disorders and substance abuse among children, youth and young adults.
"Almost every family in America has been affected by mental health disorders and substance abuse issues," said Bono Mack. "Timely treatment and prevention can make all the difference in the child's life, yet too often, mental health issues go untreated for years. This resolution is a positive step towards improving the health of our youth and ultimately our society as a whole. I am proud to work with my colleague Tammy Baldwin to draw national attention to the serious issue of mental health."
"Mental health and substance abuse disorders among our nation's youth have a profound impact on our families, our schools and our communities. Prevention programs can lessen these impacts and improve the health of our nation's youth. This resolution is an important first step in increasing awareness about mental health promotion and prevention practices," said Baldwin.
Mental health and substance abuse disorders among children, youth and young adults are major threats to health and well-being that often carry over into adulthood. The scientific literature underscores that these childhood behavioral health disorders, if untreated, may lead to school failure, poor employment opportunities or even incarceration. The July 2003 President's Commission on Mental Health declared that no other illnesses damage so many children so seriously.
This resolution represents an important first step, given evidence in communities across the country, of the need for effective tools to prevent mental disorders among young people. More than 80 percent of children who need mental health treatment do not receive it, and when they do, it is on average a decade after the onset of illness. The rate of suicide among our nation's youth is shocking. Suicide represents the third leading cause of death for young individuals between the ages of 10-24, and the second leading cause of death among college-aged students. Mental health problems are implicated in 90 percent of those deaths.
However, mental health promotion and prevention practices can impede the onset, or reduce the severity, of disorders. The Baldwin-Bono Mack resolution reaffirms that prevention of mental disorders and substance abuse among children, youth, and young adults should be a public health priority.
"We applaud Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) for introducing a resolution that highlights the importance of preventing mental disorders and substance abuse among children and adolescents," said Mental Health America President and CEO, David Shern, Ph.D. "This resolution represents an important step in recognizing that while there are well-researched mental health promotion and prevention practices that can impede the onset of devastating mental disorders or reduce their severity, these important advances have not been widely implemented. The prevention of mental disorders must be a public health priority."