Youngsters Lack Understanding of Mental Illness

Children are likely to shun other kids who have mental illness and to fail to seek help for their own health problems, because they harbor misconceptions about those illnesses, including ADHD and depression.

Friday December 1st - 10:30am

Children have little trouble understanding physical ailments, but many harbor misconceptions about mental illnesses, like ADHD and depression. As a result, kids are likely to shun peers who have mental illness—and to fail to seek help for their own mental health problems.

In a nationwide poll of 1,318 children and teens, three out of four said that they recognize asthma as a physical illness, but only half recognized ADHD or depression as a mental illness. A third of the respondents said that students would likely tease or shun a classmate who was depressed or had ADHD. Only one in four indicated that a student with asthma would face similar disparagement.

When asked what they would do if they thought they were depressed, roughly half of the respondents said they would talk to a friend or family member. Forty percent said that they would simply try to think and act “normal,” and 28 percent said they would wait for their mood to improve on its own.

Half cited medication as a possible treatment for ADHD. If they had asthma, students said, most would talk to a doctor or parents and take medication.

To read more poll results, go to news/allnewsbydate.asp?NewsID=1095.

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