A new study shows that suicide is the third leading cause of death for California residents aged ten-to-24. According to child psychologist Dr. Bela Sood, half of all mental illnesses for children begin before the age of 14.
"Childhood presents a unique opportunity where we are able to look at mental illness, intervene quickly, and therefore prevent the secondary problems that come along with mental illness."
By the time adults turn 24, 75 percent of mental illnesses present themselves. According to the Office of Adolescent Health, 30 percent of California high school students have reported feeling depressed. At least 12 percent of students aged between 12-to-17 say they have reported massive depressive episodes and up to 18 percent of high-schoolers say they've considered taking their own life.
Dr. Sood says education is key for students to help understand their symptoms.
"The lack of education that people have about this, makes them think that when they have a mental illness, that somehow it gives them a label of being 'crazy,'" Dr. Sood said.
Dr. Sood says that one major factor in the epidemic is limited access to healthcare. One estimate says that the United States has a severe shortage of mental healthcare professionals for children and only one out of every five children gets the help they need. That's because there's only eight-thousand mental health professionals for children in the United States.
"So you really require 30,000 trained child psychologists to meet the psychiatric needs of the United States and we have this big gap," Dr. Sood says.