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The loss of a parent. Exposure to violence. Living in poverty. Environmental factors. Causes unknown.

Youth today face challenges that may result in mood disorders, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, conduct problems, grief, and other issues that limit their development. An estimated 1 in every 5 children suffers from a mental disorder, representing a decade-long increase in diagnoses, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In Minnesota, nearly 1 in every 10 children has a serious emotional disturbance that is interfering with social, cognitive and emotional development, according to the Department of Human Services.

Children with mental health disorders struggle to succeed in school, to make friends and to build relationships. They often experience problems at home and in the community. The effects can be long-lasting as they can develop chronic health problems, such as asthma and diabetes, and are at risk of developing mental illness in adulthood.

Their families struggle too. It can be difficult to determine a child’s problem behavior from “just a stage,” and what care is needed. The emotional and financial toll can test the resilience of any family.

Public perception of mental disorders, unattainable solutions, and considerable costs can complicate the situation. Navigating resources can be completely overwhelming to a family that is in crisis or is unfamiliar with specialty care for mental health.

Fortunately, diagnosis and treatment are available to help children manage their health and realize their potential.

For families in the Northland, there is a network of support through health care providers that make up the Northland Children’s Mental Health Collaborative (NCMHC). Nearly 30 agencies are working together to provide services, resources, and assistance for children and families in the region.

The group meets quarterly to learn about each other’s services and the continuum of care this collective represents. The purpose of NCMHC is to strengthen the continuum of regional care for youth and families by sharing resources, identifying gaps in services, promoting professional development and providing information and access to youth-based, family-focused services.


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