APA says Recommended Mental Health Care not Reaching Most Youth

According to a report from the American Psychological Association (APA) task force, 116th Annual Convention, most youth with mental health disorders are not receiving recommended care. Task force chair, Anne E. Kazak, PhD, director of the department of psychology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, in an interview with Medscape Psychiatry, says "A variety of interventions have been developed that are quite effective for treating children with different disorders, and the challenge becomes getting these out into practice."

The problem lies in the misconception that mental health disorders might merely the result of poor parenting - that a child is “inherently bad”, or will “grow out of it”, according to Robert L. Findling, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in Cleveland, Ohio, and consultant for Medscape Psychiatry.

The task force, composed of seven members, has made recommendations backed by several analyses that support specific interventions. Reaching children with problems such as autism and eating disorders; should be based on scientific evidence.

Included in the recommendations are the development of interactive web-programs that can disseminate evidence based treatment guidelines to mental health professionals, families and mental health agencies. Teaching facilities are encouraged to increase evidence-based perspectives into graduate psychology programs, as well as continuing education resources. A multi-disciplinary task force is recommended to identify barriers to delivering mental health care for this group of patients. Increased funding for research is also expected to help with the development of new evidence based care and delivery of mental health services.

Emphasized in the report was the need for continuous monitoring of youths and adolescents with mental health disorders which include anxiety, depression, ADD, substance-abuse and conduct disorders, in addition to targeting youth from different cultures, socioeconomic background and geographic location.

The report, entitled, Disseminating Evidence-Based Practice for Children and Adolescents: A Systems Approach to Enhancing Care, estimates that approximately 15 million children in the United States have some form of mental health disorder, yet only about 25% receive evidence-based mental health care.

Source: American Psychological Association 116th Annual Convention. Released August 13, 2008.

Reference: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/579350