Mental Health:

Get The Facts...Bust the Myths


FACT:  One in five young people have at least one diagnosable mental or addictive disorder.[1] in ouf public schools, this translates into roughly four children in every classroom, and more than 2,000 students district-wide in Lawrence and 3000 district-wide in Eudora. 

FACT:  The highest dropout rate occurs among students with emotional disturbance: 65% of the students in that disability category under the IDEA drop out of school, a rate that is substantially higher any other disability category.  Lacking the social skills necessary to be effective, they typically hold multiple, short-term jobs… and consequently, earn less than students from any other disability category.[2]


FACT:  Untreated mental health disorders can lead to more severe, more difficult-to-treat illnesses, and to the development of co-occuring mental disorders, as well as a range of school-related problems.[3]


FACT:  Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States and worldwide.[4] At any point in time 10 to 15 percent of children and adolescents have some symptoms of depression, making them more susceptible to a depressive episode, substance abuse, school failure, or suicide.[5]  Each year, 9% of adolescents experience a major depressive episode.[6]


FACT: Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among children and teens ages 10-19.[7]

FACT:  A landmark study shows that more than 33% of us will suffer with an anxiety disorder within our lifetime, with a median age of onset of 11. Treatment for this disorder has the longest delay of all mental disorders—up to 23 years—with an enormous toll on children and teens.[8]


MYTH:   Children and teenagers don't suffer from "real" mental illnesses — they are just moody or ‘going through a stage.’ Mental health disorders are not real, much less treatable.
FACT:   One in five children and teens has some type of mental health problem in a given year.
 Mental disorders are as easy to diagnose as asthma, diabetes and cancer, with a range of effective treatments for most conditions.


MYTH:   There’s no use talking about problems and airing our dirty laundry. Problems at home should stay at home.

FACT:  Most therapy is about developing solutions and coping skills for the things that bother us, not ‘just talking.’ Regardless of where stress occurs, it disrupts our ability to think clearly and to learn. This can negatively impact on academics, creating further distress for children and families. Our ‘problems’ don’t stay in a geographical location.


MYTH:   If we go talk to someone about mental health issues, they’ll just want to put my child on medication.
FACT:   Of the 24,119 adolescents identified with a diagnosis of major depression, 72% (17,313) had no antidepressant prescription filled within six months of their diagnosis. --
Psychiatric News
January 7, 2005

MYTH:   A mental health diagnosis will follow my child for the rest of their lives and do more harm than good.
FACT:   The WRAP Program does not formally diagnose children to work with them. WRAP Workers focus on working with the social and emotional needs of all children.

MYTH:   We’re good people. My child has no difficulties with his/her mental health, and so we don’t need to be concerned about mental health issues.
FACT:  Physical and emotional issues don’t differentiate between “good” and “bad” people. All of us experience stress; children are no different. Any child can be affected, whether it is your child, or one of their good friends at school, and in either case will need support and guidance. Mental health, like physical health, is something we all benefit from supporting one another to nurture in all children.   

MYTH:   People who abuse drugs aren’t sick they are just weak. Furthermore, troubled youth just need more discipline.
FACT:  Over 66% of young people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health problem which complicates treatment. Also, nearly 80% of all youth in juvenile justice facilities have at least one diagnosable mental health disorder.

Mental health issues are personal problems—not a school or community concern
, nor is it a business concern.
FACT:  Approximately 65% of children who have a diagnosed mental health disorder age 14 and older drop out of school.  This is the highest dropout rate of any disability group.  In the workplace, depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States over back problems, heart disease and liver failure.

Mental health issues will cost us too much to treat or prevent
FACT:  We are already pay as a nation for unmet mental health needs: $8.8 billion to juvenile justice systems, $14.4 billion to child welfare systems, $2.9 billion for chronic physical health problems resulting from untreated mental health disorders, and $1.3 billion in lost productivity in adult life.
— Fromm,S. 2001. Total cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States.

[2] US Dept. of Education, Twenty-fifth annual report to congress on the implementation of the individuals with disabilities education act, volume 1, section 1. Washington, DC, 2003.  Access at:

[3] National Institute of Mental Health. Access at

[6] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Access at

[7] National Institute of Mental Health

[8] Archives of General Psychiatry. Access at: