Stress and mental health are trending, children’s hospitals fight to end stigma and improve policy

“Be kind; everyone you meet is engaged in a great struggle.”

Though there’s some debate about who said this first, this week’s post shows how mental distress is a prevalent negative mindset in nearly every audience.  If you are a parent, please read this. If you create personas of buyers, please read this. If you are a healthcare marketer, I hope this fires you up.

There is a vast need to address mental health in the United States

1. 25% of adults in the US experience a behavioral health disorder ever year.

Modern Healthcare has made a resource center for getting a handle on the need to address mental health. It cites CDC data showing that patients being treated for cancer and heart conditions have a rate of depression that can approach 30%, but there’s a less that 4% rate of psychiatric consults that happen related to these treatments.

2. One third of US adults will have a full-on anxiety disorder during their lifetime.

That’s what research from the National Institute for Mental Health reports about the general population of adults in the US. This is a huge reminder that customers are people first, and a material number of them are or will soon deal with mental stress.

3. The rate of severe depression and self-injury among students has doubled in less than a decade.

Several large studies have found this among college students. And research by the Pediatric Academic Society confirm the same increases among children admitted to 32 children’s hospitals. The children in this later study range in age from 5 to 17, with the largest uptick seen among girls. Note – this is no longer confined to adolescents, the research documents self-harm now happening even in to the early years of elementary school. 

4. Suicide is becoming the leading cause of death for kids.

Colorado Children’s Hospital is running a policy campaign addressing the reality that suicide is the leading cause of death for kids ages 10-24 in their state, and that there is currently no pediatric mental health system in Colorado. As hospitals increasingly address social determinants of health and population health, their leaders may be more inclined to advocate for policy change.

5. Hey parents: teens average 7.5 hours interacting with screens daily – and four minutes with you.

Jeffrey Leiken’s article about Life Inside the Mind of a Bully, has a buried headline: In “wired” homes in America (those where every one has their own computer), parents spend on average 4 minutes  a day of uninterrupted time with their teenage children. He goes on to note: “It takes more than 4 minutes a day to raise kids to be morally and socially conscious people.”  A major theme in the article is that screen time increased the time peer groups influence kids, while usually reducing parental influence and the guiding care this should bring.

While one might question such a shocking finding, it fits with other research elsewhere….and if true, it might well contribute to the more widespread stress cited above. I have two teen age kids, and as I attended parent-teacher conferences this week, this research was on my mind. If we want a mentally resilient workforce, neighbors who care and civic leaders who aspire beyond self-interest – we best make sure as children they are interacting with people who care about them – with screens down. Perhaps, we could generalize this to everyone we meet.

Happily, Behavioral Health is Trending at Children’s Hospitals

Nationwide Children’s is launching a major behavioral health facility, leading them to recruit mental health staff in a home page call out, and they continue their On Our Sleeves content hub to fight mental health stigma.

Nationwide’s home page calls for mental health professionals to join in.

Children’s Hospital Colorado is building facilities, fighting stigma and advancing research.

Its easy to become absorbed in work, cultural drama or tune it all out with wall-to-wall streamed entertainment. Regardless, mental health and interconnected stresses are present in the lives of  everyone we try to reach in our personal and work lives.

Being wise to this could make us more useful to all.

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