In 2003 the World Health Organisation estimates that worldwide up to 20% of children and adolescents had a mental health disorder serious enough to require professional attention. Yet, fewer than one in five received needed treatment.
Families, friends and teachers are often the first to notice changes in young people that may signal an emotional or behavioural problem, but they may be reluctant to talk about them. Families may also be embarrassed about seeking help or may decide to wait, hoping that problems will sort themselves out. For most emotional health problems early help gives the best results. Effective help for children and adolescents during the early stages of an emotional or behavioural problem, just as with a physical illness, generally involves short-term counselling and/or treatment. Treatment is usually based in the local community with as little disruption to school and family life as possible.