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Peace of mind

Peace of mind

Proactively addressing mental health issues for children can be the game-changer of a lifetime.

Mental health. Just the words can strike apprehension and worry, especially for parents who fear their child may be suffering from a mental or emotional condition. But this shouldn’t be the case. Why should recognizing, understanding and treating a phobia, anxiety or chemical imbalance be any different from treating a broken wrist or a cavity? 

“The most important mental health issue facing young children in Orange County is the lack of understanding by parents about its importance,” says Todd Hanson, vice president of Donor and Community Engagement for the Orange County Community Foundation.

The facts should make us all stand up and take notice:

  • As many as 1 in 5 children have a mental health disorder that can be identified and require treatment.
  • Roughly 1 in 10 children have a mental health issue that is severe enough to impair how they function at home, school or in the community.
  • The most common mental health issues in children are ADHD, phobias, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress, depression and bipolar disorder. 
  • The onset of a major mental illness can occur as early as 7 to 11 years old.

“There are mental and emotional needs that we can identify and help to find the best course of treatment for,” says Lori Pack, executive director of the nonprofit Child Guidance Center in Santa Ana. 

“It is a sad fact that 70 to 80 percent of those in need of treatment do not receive it.”

The Child Guidance Center uses innovative counseling and educational programs, in addition to parental training and outreach, to help children with their mental health needs. Its staff includes more than 50 child mental health specialists with post graduate education, and they treat more than 1,000 children and families every week.

Orange County is home to many fine organizations like Child Guidance Center that are committed to identifying, educating and treating mental health issues in children. Learn more by visiting cgcoc.org or ConnectOC.org.


Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation.

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