Press Releases

NAMI Joins in Announcing New Center for the Advancement of Children's Mental Health

"There is a Need for Greater Knowledge…There is a Need for Greater Action."

May 12 2000

Arlington, VA - The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) has joined with the newly established Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health to announce the creation of a national center dedicated to improving identification, assessment and treatment practices for children with mental disorders.

At a New York news conference on May 11th, NAMI released a booklet entitled "Help and Hope—Caring for Your Child’s Mental Health" in conjunction with the Center’s announcement of the results of a nationwide survey of parents and pediatricians showing that both pediatricians and parents need more information about childhood mental disorders.

NAMI’s Executive director, Laurie Flynn, who serves on the Center’s executive board, participated in the news conference in New York with Dr. Peter Jensen, director of the center, and Dr. David Shaffer, Irving Philips professor of child psychiatry and chief of the division of child psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. The Center was established by the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

NAMI’s unique partnership with the Center will mobilize our 200,000 members to carry messages about evidence-based treatment for children throughout the country," Flynn said. "There is a need for greater knowledge about mental illnesses among children and adolescents, including diagnosis and treatment. There also is a need for greater action in the medical community to address concerns raised by the U.S. Surgeon General."

During the first three months of 2000, following release of the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, a survey of newspapers and other publications conducted by NAMI showed a 54 percent increase in articles related to mental illness. The number of articles focusing on children increased 125 percent.

"National concern clearly exists about children and mental illnesses. Parents are demanding better answers to help them make the right choices," Flynn said. "Some concern is focused on whether too many children are being put too quickly on medication. But in many cases, medication is the right choice. Lack of treatment, as well as the wrong treatment, can put a child’s future at risk."

The Center’s principal functions will be to help identify new research findings ready for implementation in practice; to disseminate information and engage in public outreach; and to provide technical assistance.

It will concentrate on five areas of pediatric disorders: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); major depressive disorder; anxiety disorders; obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and youth suicide.

"We are excited about the directions the Center will pursue," Flynn said. "It will help close the gap between research and practice. NAMI’s Help and Hope booklet will be part of the tool kit for that effort."