Throughout my career, I've witnessed so many children and adolescents that suffer from the effects of mental illness. Mental illness in school-age children is a major problem that is misunderstood, and there is a lack of awareness on how it can impact the academic success and life of an individual. Since the No Child Left Behind Act, which has been amended to now the Every Student Succeeds Act; there has been more of a push for inclusion in the classroom, which means integrating special needs students in the general ed classroom.
Children with special needs and inclusion are generally thought of in terms of integrating students with a specific learning disability (SLD) in the general ed classroom. However, SLD’s have comorbidity with other disorders, specifically psychiatric disorders. Data from the Child Mind Institute categorize the top three most common psychiatric disorders as:
Of the three disorders, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent, affecting 31.9% of adolescents ages 13-18. There are several types of anxiety disorders. According to the Nation Institute of Mental Health, the most common are:
Understanding the comorbidity between anxiety disorders and disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can help better understand the impact on academic functioning as both disorders impact the ability to concentrate. It is also suggested that the long-term effects of ADHD can result in an anxiety disorder in adulthood. An article in Medical News Today stated that around half of adults who have ADHD also have an anxiety disorder (Leonard, 2017).
Anxiety disorders are also a risk factor for depression and mood disorders. In my experience, I've observed adolescents and young adults diagnosed with depression that also presently had or previously had a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or ADHD. So, if your child or student shows signs of any of the disorders mentioned, there are many resources to help. Early intervention is the key to preventing the long term effects that may result in poor academic performance and severe impairment in life.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local mental health agency.
-Tamera Bradford, Founder/CEO
Child Mind Institute. (2015). Children's Mental Health Report. Child Mind Institute Inc.
Leonard, J. (2017, May 15). ADHD and anxiety: What's the connection? Retrieved from Medical News Today Web site: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315303.php
Merikangas, K. R., He, J. P., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., … Swendsen, J. (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication--Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980–989. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017
National Institute of Mental Health. (2017, November). Any Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from National Institute of Mental Health Web site: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml