Schools should play a larger role in helping children with mental health problems, according to a new report.
In wealthy nations including the United States, only one-fourth of children with mental health problems are diagnosed and treated, HealthDay reports.
The researchers from the University of Oxford in England report in the journal Lancet Psychiatry that about three-quarters of adults who use mental health services had a diagnosable disorder before they were 18.
"Mental illness often starts in adolescence but doesn't end in adolescence: it is a life-long disorder," lead author Dr. Mina Fazel said in a journal news release. "It is therefore essential to find innovative ways to approach treatment and to reach young people to maximize their academic, emotional and social development, and schools are where children spend much of their time."
The most common mental health issues in school-age children are behavioral disorders and anxiety, Fazel said. Depression becomes more common in the later teen years, she added.
"Schools provide a platform to access large proportions of young people, and the vast majority of children picked up by screening would not need complex interventions," Fazel said. She noted there has been a large amount of research conducted on mental health interventions in schools. "We know what works, but where we fall down is implementing this on a large scale in schools. We also need national policies to help education and mental health services work more closely together," she said.