Contact Us
Make My Homepage

Mental Health Issues Rise in NJ Kids [SERIES]

In part one of a five-part series titled, “NJ Kids Confronting Mental Illness,” we examine the situation of why a growing number of our children are being diagnosed with mental health conditions.

NJAMHAA CEO Debra Wentz (Photo by David Matthau, Townsquare Media)

With more and more kids in New Jersey and across the country getting treatment for mental health issues these days, many parents are wondering why this is happening.

Some argue this is a sign of the times, and parents along with doctors are simply too eager to find something wrong with kids, and label them as having some kind of condition, but the experts disagree.

“Nowadays, especially for kids in middle and high school, there is more stress and pressure than when I remember I was in that age group years and years ago, ” says the Associate Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Shauna Moses.

NJAMHAA CEO Debra Wentz points out “we have incidents like the Newtown shooting, the shootings in Aurora, Coloarado, the Boston Marathon bombing. We’re bombarded with these stories and images and they create a lot of anxiety and fear in kids.”

She also points out since the Great Recession more kids find themselves in families where the parents are unemployed, military families have had multiple deployment scenarios, so children are left without a parent or both parents, and kids are starting to experiment with drugs at an earlier age.

“The world has become a scary and traumatic place,” Wentz says. “Kids today are faced with more and more decisions that they’re not always equipped to handle.”

“There is also an increased awareness of mental illness problems among kids,” Moses said. “There’s still for the most part a lack of education, I think it’s getting better, but we still have a far way to go.”

In addition she says unusual weather events, like the recent hurricanes Irene and Sandy, cause trauma for some youngsters, and when you put it all together, “in today’s world kids have many reasons to be stressed or depressed or anxious about something, and they need to be taken seriously.”

Tomorrow, we look at the most common conditions in children, and how parents can recognize them.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Best of NJ101.5

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for New Jersey Insiders quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive New Jersey Insiders contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.