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Dealing with children’s mental health comes with a variety of complications and concerns. A comprehensive overview of children’s mental health programs and approaches can provide guidance on further intervention methods.

The current state of children’s mental health exhibits many characteristics of a global public health crisis, the effects of which have been augmented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts of this situation are highly varied, and the solutions require a varied and targeted approach to match. A recent article, published in the journal World Psychiatry, provides an overview of the current mental health crisis in children, as well as a comparison and discussion of current approaches.

Newer models of youth mental health care that focus on transitional developmental stages are described. The authors discuss the impacts of the involvement of patients and their families and communities, encouraging seeking help for mild and potentially transient problems before they develop, and providing proper resources for youth mental health care. A large number of contemporary approaches to community awareness, resource distribution, and technologically mediated resources are discussed.

The study describes findings related to aspects of positive psychology. These include a decrease in trauma among individuals who practiced self-compassion, and a relationship between increased post-traumatic growth and among those who demonstrated positive reinterpretation of stressful factors and a positive outlook towards the future. The potential among traumatized individuals for subsequent character growth is also described and contextualized to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, it is noted that positive daily experiences and collective positive experiences contributed to maintaining mental health during the early months of stay-at-home orders.

The authors also address criticisms of the approach that they suggest, including that it promotes over-medicalization and overtreatment. They note that a needs-based approach in which diagnosis isn’t emphasized and treatment is sequenced with clinical staging can provide comprehensive resources to those who need them, without including possibly mitigating factors that further contribute to children’s mental health difficulties.

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Reference:
McGorry, P. D., Mei, C., Chanen, A., Hodges, C., Alvarez-Jimenez, M., & Killackey, E. (2022). Designing and scaling up integrated youth mental health care. World Psychiatry, 21(1), 61-76. doi:10.1002/wps.20938

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