A new study suggests that mental health issues in childhood – such as depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems – are directly linked to serious issues in adulthood.
The new study, which was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, collected data from a survey of 1,420 children from 11 counties in North Carolina, TIME reports. The children were assessed yearly between the ages of 9 and 16 for common mental health problems. Researchers found that 31 percent of the children displayed “subthreshold” psychiatric problems – showing symptoms of a psychiatric problem without an actual diagnosis – and 26 percent suffered from some form of emotional or behavioral disorder.
Researchers discovered that the children experienced difficulties in their adult life, including those not diagnosed with psychiatric problems, reports Tech Times.
Even those with only mild mental health issues had an increased risk to experience a “rough patch” as they reached adulthood. This includes the children who did not continue to experience psychiatric issues into adulthood.
Among the children who had mild conditions, 23.2 percent suffered from more than one of those issues as adults, and a whopping 41.9 percent experienced at least one of the issues.
On the other hand, of those children diagnosed with serious psychiatric problems 34.2 percent had more than one problem as adults and an overwhelming 59.5 percent faced serious difficulties coping as adults.
“A big problem with mental health in the United States is that most children don’t get treatment and those who do don’t get what we would consider optimal care,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. William Copeland of Duke University Medical Center.
A big problem with mental health in the United States is that most children don’t get treatment and those who do don’t get what we would consider optimal care. So the problems go on much longer than they need to and cost much more than they should in both money and damaged lives.
Copeland feels the study is proof that mental health issues need to be addressed without stigma, and as early as possible. “We need to focus on prevention and intervention,” he said.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, the police force is changing how they respond to incidents involving people suffering from mental illness.