Most mental illness has its origins in childhood. The most important modifiable risk factors for mental illness and the most important determinants of mental well-being are childhood ones. The most important opportunities for prevention of mental illness and promotion of mental health therefore lie in childhood, many of them in the context of the family.
The figures on mental illness in childhood are stark:
- half of all mental disorder first emerges before the age of 14 years and three quarters by age 25 years1
- up to 25% of children show signs of mental health problems2 more than half of which track through into adulthood
- 10% of children have a clinically diagnosed mental disorder at any one point in childhood.2 Only a minority of such children are in touch with services2,3
- the most common childhood mental disorder is