Mental illness, the theme of our 2016 Better Government Competition, impacts all of us. It takes a toll on our education, healthcare, and criminal justice systems, and affects our economy. We cannot end mental illness, but we can do much more to ensure that those who live with it receive better treatment.
Preventive mental health care is an area of critical importance, and an unparalleled opportunity. Approximately half of all mental health issues begin before the age of 17, and 75 percent begin before the age of 24.
Despite this, an estimated 80% of children with mental health issues ages 6-17 receive no help. This leads to an average delay of 9 years between the onset of symptoms and intervention.
For too many young people the lack of treatment or extended delay leads to even bigger issues. Over 50 percent of children over the age of 14, suffering from a mental illness, fail to complete their education. An estimated 65 percent of boys and 75 percent of girls in juvenile detention have at least one mental illness.
Improvements in technology and health insurance parity make right now the perfect time to introduce substantive change. As noted by the World Health Organization, “collaboration between mental health, public health and other sectors is complex but necessary for making prevention programs a reality.”
Pioneer Institute’s Better Government Competition is a chance to break down complex barriers, and mold a positive future, but can only be accomplished through your great ideas.