Study: Fewer children have severe mental problems, more getting help

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Serious mental problems are declining among children in America. That may be hard to believe in light of public perception and horrific cases that often make headlines.

According to a  study published in the  New England Journal of Medicine, there's also been a big rise in how many kids are seeking help for mental issues.

The study shows more children and teens are taking mental health medicines and getting therapy than ever before. It's something Licensed Professional Counselor Charlotte Baldwin sees with her patients in Madison. She says she believes awareness among parents is at the root of the change.

"More parents are very educated about issues with children, very involved and understanding, noticing things. They seem to be a generation that less stigmatizes mental health," said Baldwin.

The study shows the biggest rise in treatment rates has been among the most troubled teens.

"Troubled children are being noticed, they're not just being called bad kids at school," said Baldwin.

Baldwin says therapy early on in life, where kids can learn important life skills,  is the key to setting kids up for success.

"These aren't things you just use now, you will be using these for the rest of your life," said Baldwin.

The study reveals the most severely troubled teens, however, get no help at all. Baldwin wants to encourage parents to seek help if their kids are acting out because the same way that good habits will follow the kids through life-- so can the bad habits if left untreated.

"We can't just ignore this and say 'I don't want my child identified with mental problems', it's best to go ahead while they're young, change some habits and change them into good habits," said Baldwin.

A lot of parents may not seek help because they hear about overmedication, something Baldwin believes is overplayed.

"I'ts not common at all, most children are medicated very responsibly, most children respond well to medicine and find out life is going so much better now," said Baldwin.