The Campaign for Mental Health Reform sponsored two May Capitol Hill briefings--one in the Senate, another in the House of Representatives--on the public health crisis of child and adolescent mental disorders.
At both briefings, psychologist Larke Nahme Huang, PhD, a managing research scientist at the American Institutes for Research, testified on behalf of APA, which is a member of the campaign.
In her testimony, Huang, who served on the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, reviewed research findings on child and adolescent mental disorders, including those involving racial and ethnic, economic and geographic disparities. Noting, for example, the high rate of suicide attempts among teenagers--5 to 8 percent--Huang said stigma, fear and ignorance surrounding mental health disorders often perpetuate the problems of troubled youth.
What's needed, she argued, is early identification and treatment of mental disorders, including mental health screening in schools.
"Our research indicates that with the right intervention and supports, these youth are resilient, can recover from adversity and go on to lead full lives," she testified. "But, this is contingent on [early] identification and recognition of the problem."
The Senate briefing was co-sponsored by Sens. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The House briefing was co-sponsored by Congressional Mental Health Caucus co-chairs Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.).
Reps. Napolitano and Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) gave opening remarks at the House briefing. In addition, at both briefings, several young people spoke of their experiences battling depression and eating disorders.
--B. MURRAY AND E. GARRISON