Guest Blog: A Child’s Mind - Crossroad of Cure and Care

The pandemic is greatly affecting today’s youth. While school has gotten underway in New Jersey and across the country, many children are attending school virtually or in a hybrid schedule. For many students, the changes to their everyday lives caused by Covid-19 will have an emotional impact that we are just beginning to understand.

This week’s guest blogger, Dr. Shuvendu Sen - Vice Chair, Research at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, shares some insights about our children’s emotional health, and how we can all work to foster mental health for our children, especially in today’s world.

All the best, 
Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of PDFNJ


By Dr. Shuvendu Sen

A Child’s Mind - Crossroad of Cure and Care

At the threshold of everything beautiful and imaginable, childhood remains our most refined retreat. Every child, potentially a torchbearer of our society, needs our undivided care and attention. Exposed to the vicissitudes of an ever-evolving community, a child is often the most unwanted victim. Emotionally, socially, and culturally. In a society fraught with friction, violence, and aberrations, unknowingly, almost innocently, a child gravitates toward the unworthy. 

An unavoidable question emerges. Are we doing enough to take care of our children’s emotional health?

The medical fraternity will point out that children’s emotional health problems are among global health advocates’ highest priorities. We also understand that the leading causes of disability for children and youth can significantly disrupt healthy development if left untreated for years. Pundits point out that mental health promotion in childhood is the only viable short-term path to reducing the burden of adult mental disorders.

Indeed, nearly three-quarters of adult disorders have their onset or origins during childhood, incurring significant social, educational, and economic consequences over time. In contrast, there is good evidence that commonly occurring problems such as anxiety and depression can be prevented or alleviated through intervention in childhood and adolescence. 

Yet statistics tell a different story. According to data from 2001, 2002, and 2003 National Health Interview Surveys, in the United States, 56 percent of children ages 4–17 with definite or severe functional difficulties attributable to mental health problems had not seen a mental health professional in the past year.

A decade later, a study in Massachusetts, after the start of mandatory child mental health screening in primary care, found that 40 percent of screen-positive children had no prior history of mental health service use.

Where are we going wrong? To seek an answer, we need to look across the ocean. In the United Kingdom, as well as in a larger part of Europe, child care is essentially an amalgamation of primary care, school-based, and public-based services. Not that we don’t have these services in the United States. Most public libraries have extensive sections that cater to various emotional, social, and intellectual needs. There are plenty of interactive sessions, exhibits, contests, and performances to feed the young brain. Ditto for school-based learnings. A guidance counselor is always there to attend the challenged or a troubled mind. 

The missing link lies elsewhere. There is little bondage between the community and the medical world looking after the child. We all work in silos: the school, the library, and the doctor’s office. 

What we need is an effective partnership between the three points of entry into the child’s mind. An emotional and yet, a professional collaboration where every mind can be tracked, protected, and cared for. As a flower, every child needs nourishment and nurture.

Notice: This article reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ). This information should not be construed as legal advice from the author or PDFNJ. Please consult your own attorney before making any legal decisions

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