By Susan Bazyk, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, and Marian Arbesman, PhD, OTR/L
The U.S. Surgeon General has estimated that between 5% and 11% of school-age children have mental health disorders that result in extreme or significant functional impairment, indicating that of the 70 million children and adolescents in the United States, 6 million to 9 million have a serious emotional disturbance. Only 1 in 5, however, receives any professional help, so a significant proportion of this population is underserved.
Federal legislation mandates services, including occupational therapy, for some children with disabilities. The profession is well-positioned to serve children and youth with behavioral and psychosocial needs and their families, particularly in educational settings. As positive mental health is considered fundamental to overall health and quality of life and contributes to the functioning of individuals, families, communities, and societies, this guideline presents a public health model to envision and guide occupational therapy services in the promotion of mental health and prevention and intervention of mental illness for school, community, and heath care settings. Topics include universal mental health promotion and prevention services, targeted mental health services, and intensive mental health services.