More than 300,000 California children ages 4 to 11 have mental health needs, yet only one-fourth of them received mental health care in 2007 and 2009. Health insurance coverage and a usual source of care typically facilitate mental health service use; however, this is not the case for children with mental health needs.
This policy brief identifies children at risk for mental health needs and highlights some barriers to their receiving mental health services. Childhood is a vital time for the promotion of positive mental health among children, as well as for supporting at-risk families in order to avert the early onset of some disorders and help reduce the severity of others. To reduce the potential burden and lifelong difficulties of untreated mental health needs, it is critical that mental health problems in young children be identified and addressed early.