We are facing an unprecedented crisis of mental illness in today’s youth.
Mental health and neurological conditions are reaching alarming levels in children and teens across the globe. Even before the pandemic, rates of mental health problems in children and adolescents were concerning. In the United States, data from a 2016 survey found that 16.5% of all children under age 18 had a diagnosed mental health disorder (Whitney 2019). According to the study, half of these children never received appropriate mental health care. Worse yet, prescribing medications to children for mental health conditions is common, yet effectiveness is exceedingly poor. For many mental health disorders, there are no approved medications for core symptoms.
Add to this, it appears the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified mental health challenges among children and teens, especially when it comes to adolescent depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief and suicidal ideation. Research has found that rates of suicide in 2016 among teenagers were 48% higher than in 2000–a concerning pre-pandemic statistic alone.
As a functional psychiatry practitioner for over 30 years, I have witnessed the benefits of a more comprehensive, integrative approach to treating youth and adult mental health. More specifically, the outcomes have been profound when evaluating for and treating nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, gut flora problems, toxicities, genetic defects, and other contributing factors.
With such high rates of mental health conditions growing among children and teens, we desperately need more effective, functional medicine solutions. The time to act is now, and we need your help.
Request for Presentations
We are seeking practitioners adept in addressing the youth mental health care crisis, and experienced in utilizing new, innovative treatment paradigms in functional medicine. If you have experience treating youth and adolescent autism, ADHD, OCD, PANS/PANDAS, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and beyond, particularly with a functional or integrative medicine approach, we encourage you to submit a presentation proposal for this cutting-edge symposium.
Ideally, we are looking for practitioners who have experience speaking at conferences for professionals, and can help guide other providers through these challenges.
We are facing a growing youth mental health crisis. And since the pandemic, rates of mental health disorders appear to have worsened.
A survey in the United States evaluated mental health in adults and teens during the pandemic, revealing that in teenagers 55% had depression, 48% anxiety, 45% post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 58% prolonged grief, and 37% suicidal ideation (Murata 2020). And the problem appears to be global. Studies out of China have shown rates of depression and anxiety in adolescents reaching as high as 43.7% and 37.4% respectively (Zhou 2020).
Currently, suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents after accidents (CDC 2020), and the data indicates the rates of suicide are increasing among teenagers. The rate of suicide in the United States for both boys and girls has increased up through 2016 with rates 48% higher than they were in 2000 (Miron 2019)–a concerning statistic even before the pandemic.
The time to act is now, as rates of mental illness have been found to be higher as adolescents approach adulthood (Racine 2020).
Teenagers aren’t the only demographic facing unprecedented mental health challenges. In children, autism has increased to 1 in 54 (Maenner 2020), and rates of developmental disability in children overall are 1 in 6, or 17% (Zablotsky 2019). Along those same lines, eating disorder rates have more than doubled worldwide, from 3.5% during 2000-2006, increasing to 7.8% from 2013-2018 (Galmiche 2019).
While prescribing medications to children for mental health conditions is common, effectiveness is exceedingly poor and in need of transformation. As of 2008, doctors prescribed antidepressant medication to about ⅓ of children struggling with depression in the United states (Murphy 2014). Yet a recent meta-analysis came to the conclusion that of 16 different standard antidepressants, only fluoxetine had any efficacy for treating depression in children (Zhou 2020). More serious still, for many mental health disorders, such as autism and anorexia, there aren’t any approved medications for core symptoms.
Whitney DG, Peterson MD. US National and State-Level Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders and Disparities of Mental Health Care Use in Children. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(4):389-391. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5399
Ghandour RM, Sherman LJ, Vladutiu CJ, et al. Prevalence and Treatment of Depression, Anxiety, and Conduct Problems in US Children. J Pediatr. 2019;206:256-267.e3. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.09.021
Murata S, Rezeppa T, Thoma B, et al. The psychiatric sequelae of the COVID-19 pandemic in adolescents, adults, and health care workers. Depress Anxiety. 2021;38(2):233-246. doi:10.1002/da.23120
Zhou SJ, Zhang LG, Wang LL, et al. Prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of psychological health problems in Chinese adolescents during the outbreak of COVID-19. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2020;29(6):749-758. doi:10.1007/s00787-020-01541-4
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Miron O, Yu KH, Wilf-Miron R, Kohane IS. Suicide Rates Among Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States, 2000-2017. JAMA. 2019;321(23):2362-2364. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.5054
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2019 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released in 2020. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2019, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html on May 11, 2021.
Maenner MJ, Shaw KA, Baio J, et al. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2016 [published correction appears in MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Apr 24;69(16):503]. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2020;69(4):1-12. Published 2020 Mar 27. doi:10.15585/mmwr.ss6904a1
Zablotsky B, Black LI, Maenner MJ, Schieve LA, Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, Blumberg SJ, Kogan MD, Boyle CA. Prevalence and Trends of Developmental Disabilities among Children in the US: 2009–2017. Pediatrics. 2019; 144(4):e20190811
Galmiche M, Déchelotte P, Lambert G, Tavolacci MP. Prevalence of eating disorders over the 2000-2018 period: a systematic literature review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;109(5):1402-1413. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy342
Murphy JM, McCarthy AE, Baer L, Zima BT, Jellinek MS. Alternative national guidelines for treating attention and depression problems in children: comparison of treatment approaches and prescribing rates in the United Kingdom and United States. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2014;22(3):179-192. doi:10.1097/HRP.0000000000000026
Zhou X, Teng T, Zhang Y, et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of antidepressants, psychotherapies, and their combination for acute treatment of children and adolescents with depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 2020;7(7):581-601. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30137-1