speech therapy mental health problems

Can Speech Therapy Prevent Mental Health Problems?

Mental Health Problems on the Rise

Most people are unaware that 50% of all mental health problems reveal themselves before the child’s 15th birthday.  To the uninformed, this can come as a shocking reality.  Theresa May’s recent announcement that her government intends to offer mental health support to every school the UK was met first with surprise and then was welcomed widely.
Nearly 10% of UK’s children are suffering from some mental health issue, and the problems just keep growing – which has everyone worried.  Don’t think the situation is any better here in the United States. Anxiety-related disorders continue to rise to what many are calling epidemic proportions.

Speech Therapy: A Surprise Solution

While it is a no-brainer to provide the necessary support and training in the schools, a critical but not so apparent source of the problem is unwittingly ignored.  Research and clinical experience continue to show that deficits in speech, language and communication skills play a significant role in the increase. In other words, Without speech therapy, for many the doors to solving mental health problems may remain locked.
Perhaps the reason that this connection is going undetected is that the relationship between speech, language, and communication and mental health is not so apparent. However, studies show that nearly 45% of children and teenagers that are recommended to receive mental health services suffer from underlying unidentified communication problems.
The consequence?  The real “fix” that address the core problem is either not accessible or not even offered to those struggling young people.  For example, due to the child’s language-based deficiency, it becomes more difficult to assess if the cognitive therapy that could help the child.
What’s more, many of the helpful techniques used by the therapist including interventions and support are contingent upon the ability to discuss thoughts and ideas or express and articulate feelings.  These higher order language skills are just beyond the reach of those saddled with communication deficits and lacking the speech therapy to address those deficiencies.
But the problem becomes more complicated. If young people cannot adequately express the problem, then how can they hope to find a solution? In other words, without the benefit of speech therapy, the mental health solution is merely unavailable.

 Without the right “fix” the problems can snowball

But there is another, and perhaps more lethal derivative of a communication disorder that is not solved by speech therapy.  As we all know, excellent communication skills are at the core of creating and developing healthy relationships. These skills are critical to both understanding concepts and emotions and are crucial to self-expression, as well as problem-solving.
Social discourse and interactions which are so crucial to a child’s healthy development and confidence are likely to become a nightmare.  Children and teenagers with communication deficits are saddled with a burden that over time may become overwhelming with the obvious detrimental consequences of loneliness and isolation.

Get the kids the help they need

Bottom line.  Communication difficulties are often not limited to the realm of communication difficulties.  Like cancer, they can spread and impact areas of life in entirely unexpected ways.  Seen in this light, speech therapy is significantly more necessary and essential to a young person’s life if unwanted mental health problems are to be avoided.
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