From Dr. Broderick
At SAMHSA, our vision is to promote the opportunity for all children and youth to live full and productive lives in the community—to have an education, preparation for employment, and meaningful relationships with family and friends. To achieve that vision, SAMHSA supports efforts to improve outcomes for children and youth with or at risk for mental health problems, substance use, and co-occurring disorders.
Children’s mental health is best understood across the developmental lifespan from birth through adolescence and within the context of their families, schools, communities, and cultures. The potential impact of adverse early childhood experiences on adulthood clearly demands that we look “upstream” and promote mental health early in life.
Efforts to promote mental health need to be structured along a continuum: identifying problems early, intervening appropriately, and ensuring access to treatment and other recovery services.
Parents and other caregivers are a child’s first and foremost teachers. They need to have confidence in their own parenting abilities and feel supported by schools and health care providers. Programs that address issues of parents and other caregivers increase the potential for positive health outcomes.
SAMHSA’s Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program for Children and Their Families, highlighted in this issue of SAMHSA News, illustrates the benefits of including families and youth as critical partners in decision-making. They must be an integral part of the process, not just recipients of services. (See Coordinating Care for Children with Serious Mental Health Challenges.)
Children’s mental health is the foundation on which they build their future lives. It is up to policymakers, in concert with parents and others who can help influence the outcome, to ensure that children have every opportunity for mental well-being that will enable them to be contributing members of their families, their communities, and their Nation.
Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H.
Acting Administrator, SAMHSA