Addressing the Mental Health Needs Of Our Youth in 2019

July 2019
Addressing the Mental Health Needs Of Our Youth in 2019


An estimated 20% of children nationwide struggle with mental health issues. As awareness grows, the need for early detection through a child’s school, primary care physician, and parent are paramount for early intervention and support and can play the leading role in establishing a plan of care. Research shows that one in five children will struggle with a mental health illness by the age of 12. For Sussex County, this means that close to 8,000 children may be at risk and need support.

Currently, we are ill equipped to ensure that our youth who are struggling with mental health issues are identified and referred for treatment and/or support. A recent survey by the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that only 47% of primary care physicians feel comfortable screening for and diagnosing mental illness. Other literature shows that schools, who are often on the front line, do not have the training and support needed to recognize issues and refer students. In addition, parents frequently believe puberty is the root cause of many of their child’s behavioral issues. This assumption may or may not be true. Often, we make excuses why others may seem anxious or depressed or just not acting like themselves. If these conditions persist, we need to ensure intervention and access to help.

The Sussex County Health Coalition understands that our youth are continually inundated with social media and peer  influences. Additionally, consistent and frequent exposure to adult life concerns, a result of growing and advanced technology, can overshadow our children’s existence. This, coupled with a dwindling number of quality relationships, insufficient down time, and weak interpersonal skills, leaves our children vulnerable as they try to navigate advanced life situations without a strong support system. We, (as the adults in their lives: Teachers, Doctors, Mentors, Coaches, Youth leaders and Parents) need to learn the signs and be prepared to provide help by providing clear boundaries, quality and relevant supports and interactions that help our youth mitigate and adapt to their unique stressors.

It is important to know the signs of mental illness issues, which include:

  • Irritability
  • Change in mood and behavior
  • Lack of interest or sadness
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Withdrawal
  • Isolation and more

To learn more about the warning signs, go to

If you are concerned about the Mental Health condition of a youth living in Delaware, visit Help is Here Delaware at We need to work to end the stigma associated with mental health and support our children and families in ways that promote healing. We are stronger together; let’s stand united in this effort.

Peggy Geisler, Executive Director
Sussex County Health Coalition


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