Too many children and young people suffer from a mental illness. We are therefore committed to improving the mental health of children and adolescents. The aim is to strengthen prevention, to improve the early detection of mental illness and to expand the range of counselling and treatment services available to those affected and their families.
Investing in the mental health of children and adolescents pays off
People who are mentally healthy master life more self-determined. They have significantly better career prospects, are more resilient and less dependent on support, not least from the state. Ensuring that children and adolescents can develop psychologically healthy is therefore worthwhile in many respects.
Strengthening child psychology through early prevention measures
Childhood and youth are decisive phases in life for the development of a good basic mental constitution. This is where the individual resources are invested that decide whether and how well someone can master his or her life later on. Ensuring that children and adolescents are able to develop psychologically healthy prevents a lot of suffering on the part of those affected on the one hand, but on the other hand also prevents protracted, sometimes lifelong stories of illness with consequences for the environment and for society as a whole.
Some of the mental disorders are based on a genetic predisposition. However, environmental influences are also responsible for the development of mental disorders. The greatest potential for reducing them lies in the early stages. Children who grow up in a good social environment, who develop a positive self-image and are encouraged and supported by their families and caregivers have better prospects of starting their adult lives mentally healthy and resilient. Experiences of violence, illness, poverty, economic and social disadvantage or discrimination as well as stress and pressure to perform, on the other hand, place a massive burden on the mental health of children. Effective prevention is based on both sides, the protection factors and the risk factors.
Early detection increases therapy success and saves high follow-up costs
If mental disorders occur, they are in many cases only recognized late in children and adolescents. The average time between the first appearance of a mental illness and the first treatment is twelve years. This is far too long, considering that the earlier the disorder is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of success of treatment for mental illness. In this context, the high suicide and suicide attempt rates of adolescents and young adults are alarming.
Identifying possible mental illnesses in children and adolescents in good time and distinguishing them from any age-appropriate behavioural disorders is therefore central to the success of treatment. In many cases, timely intervention and successful therapy could also prevent mental disorders and illnesses from becoming so entrenched that someone has to suffer from them for the rest of their lives. Early detection measures are then also worthwhile because they could avoid the high social and economic follow-up costs of mental illnesses.