Children, Families and Resilience

Like adults, children can have problems too. In fact, the National Mental Health Association estimates that between 12 and 17% of all children and teens in the United States are dealing with an emotional or mental health problem at any given time. They also estimate that up to 7% of these young people have disorders that are serious enough to need treatment. Yet many families don't seek treatment for their child or teen for a variety of reasons. Families feel shame, stigma and loss. The loss is the most important factor because they lose precious time with their children when they postpone treatment.

There is no shame to having a child with mental, behavioral or emotional disorders. While many still blame parents as the cause, we now know that the origin of children's disorders is complicated. Experts in the fields of mental health, medicine and psychiatry even disagree among themselves. There is no one single, common factor that causes children's disorders. Biology, genetics, environment and developmental factors all may play a role in the child’s disorder.


There is now a huge body of evidence that shows that children and families are resilient – that is – they have the ability to overcome their problems and live happy and successful lives. The word "resilience" describes the ability of an object to resume its previous shape after being hit or damaged. In the context of mental health, "resilience" refers to the capacity of people to succeed and thrive, despite experiencing poverty, neglect and/or trauma. "Resilience" can apply to children, youth and adults. Resilient people are able to succeed because they have "protective factors" that help them survive the adversity. Protective factors come from many things – they can be inherent qualities the individual possesses, such as optimism, self-confidence or a strong faith. Protective factors can also come from outside, such as the support of loving family, special friends or caring professionals. Through programs that serve children, youth and adults, CHP works to enhance and build protective factors in the people we serve. To learn more, click on one of the links below.