ISU Headlines

ISU researcher says early intervention is key to treating mental illness

Posted July 8, 2008

As the National Institute of Mental Health outreach partner for Idaho, Idaho State University’s Institute of Rural Health has done extensive work to create programs that focus on early intervention for the treatment of mental illnesses.

Ann KirkwoodAccording to a recent report released by the American Journal of Psychiatry and the National Institute of Mental Health, American workers with serious mental illnesses account for an annual estimated loss of earnings totaling $193.2 billion.

This is a troubling fact for taxpayers, employers and many in the mental health-care industry. However, Michael F. Hogan, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and chair of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, said the consequences for the excess costs of untreated or poorly treated mental illnesses is even worse for patients than for taxpayers.

Idaho State University’s Institute of Rural Health has created a program, “Better Todays, Better Tomorrows,” as a preventative measure to help young people throughout the state access mental health care. The program focuses on early intervention for school-age children and teens. Instructors conduct training throughout Idaho and encourage adults to get early mental health treatment for children and youth in their care.

“A 2005 report revealed 46 percent of Americans will have some sort of mental disorder sometime in their lives and most adults report they experience symptoms before the age of 14,” said Ann Kirkwood, senior research associate at ISU’s Institute of Rural Health. “Without early intervention and treatment, these disorders can cause downstream consequences in adulthood, including a lack of earning power.”

One of the major benefits ISU-IRH receives as an outreach partner for NIMH is access to the most up-to-date programming and research in mental health and mental illness.

 “The training data we’re collecting indicates strongly that we are increasing knowledge of signs and symptoms, reducing stigma and we’re seeing more adults referring kids to timely and appropriate care,” said Kirkwood.

For more information or for those interested in sponsoring community training, contact Ann Kirkwood at kirkann@isu.edu or call (208) 373-1767.