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Mayo Clinic partners with advocacy organizations on 'Action Signs' toolkit

October 28, 2011
by News release
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In partnership with numerous national mental health advocacy organizations, Mayo Clinic researchers are issuing new simple-to-understand tools to help identify youth who may have mental health disorders.

Issuing these tools is consistent with the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General call in 2001 to develop a set of easily identifiable mental health disorder warning signs among youth for use by parents, professionals and community members.

Despite well-documented levels of emotional and behavioral concerns in the nation’s youth, studies have repeatedly shown that up to 75 percent of youth with mental health disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, anxiety, and eating disorders are usually not identified, and youth do not receive the care they need.

After surveying more than 6,000 parents and children about mental health services in the United States during the past decade, researchers created a mental health disorder Action Signs tool kit to help easily identify symptoms for youth who may be experiencing mental disorders. Click here for a copy. The findings and epidemiology that led to the toolkit are published in the journal Pediatrics on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.

Speakers/researchers available during the press conference include:

  • Peter Jensen, M.D, Mayo Clinic – primary investigator of the findings, Action Signs
  • Gary Blau, Ph.D., Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Child, Adolescent and Family Branch
  • Lisa Hunter Romanelli, Ph.D., executive director of the Resource for Advancing Children's Health (REACH) Institute
  • Darcy Gruttadaro, J.D., director of the Child & Adolescent Action Center at National Alliance on Mental Health Illness
  • Representatives from the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the
  • American Academy of Pediatrics

The Action Signs Project (originally called the Warning Signs Project), funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Mental Health , was developed at the Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute and completed by investigators at the REACH Institute and Mayo Clinic.

The project has used rigorous research methods, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders diagnostic criteria, as well as the input of parents, doctors, teachers and youth, so that these Action Signs are worded in common-sense non-stigmatizing terms, yet still indicate significant emotional problems that should lead someone to seek professional input and possibly help.