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U.S. Asked to Do More for Kids' Mental Health
Date:3/25/2009

Report urges new role in coordinating, funding local prevention efforts

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- A report from private, nonprofit groups calls on the U.S. government to become more involved in protecting and improving the mental health of the nation's youth.

The National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine are asking President Barack Obama to create a new agency or commission to oversee and coordinate programs aimed at preventing mental, emotional and behavioral disorders in young people.

An estimated $247 billion is already being spent each year in dealing with these issues, the groups say, but they want more attention and funding on prevention, not just treatment.

Their report calls for a federally devised 10-year plan and better coordination and funding of existing U.S. agencies to promote and deal with children's mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, conduct disorder and substance abuse. A public discussion of the report was set for March 25 in Washington, D.C.

"There is a substantial gap between what is known about preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and what is actually being done," Kenneth E. Warner, dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said in a news release from its sponsors. "It is no longer accurate to argue that these disorders can never be prevented. Many can. The nation is well-positioned to equip young people with the skills and habits needed to live healthy, happy, and productive lives in caring relationships. But we need to develop the systems to deliver effective prevention programs to a far wider group of children and adolescents."

Up to 20 percent of young people in United States experience a mental health issue each year, the report estimates. And symptoms that start in childhood occur in half of the adults who have mental, emotional a
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