Our children are our future. So, we ignore their mental health at our peril. At least a half of all mental health problems emerge by the age of 18. Yet, even in rich countries, only a quarter of young people in need of help get any specialist treatment, and many fewer in poorer countries. Good psychological treatments exist but they are simply not properly available. This is grossly inhumane and also inefficient.
Mental health problems place massive costs on the rest of society – educational failure, adolescent crime, teenage pregnancy, and ultimately benefit dependence. Moreover, poor mental health disturbs the physical function of the body and leads to major costs in physical healthcare – for example, for psychosomatic complaints, cardiovascular problems and
Early intervention is crucial. Mental health problems need to be tackled when they first appear. They need to be recognized by parents, doctors and teachers, and our whole society needs to become much more open and matter-of-fact about what is a common part of life. Our schools need to adopt children’s wellbeing as one of their major objectives – both in their ethos and their teaching. Life skills can and should be taught as professionally as mathematics or literature.
There are solutions to these problems. This report, written with outstanding support from the Forum members, sets out major changes which need to be made worldwide. These changes could revolutionize the lives of our children, and contribute much to building a happier world. The report focuses on 10 specific Action Points that can be done in every country and would bring great benefit.