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Youth mental health has lasting impact in adulthood, study shows

A study from UAMS shed new light on the lasting impacts that mental health problems as a child can have going into adulthood.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The last few weeks have been tough and filled with debate about guns and safety. At the core of it all, there's something that continues to get brought up in conversations-- mental health. 

Many people are now asking what can and will be done about this growing problem in our country, specifically when it comes to our kids. 

Just in time, Arkansas researchers have brand new data to add to the mix.

They found that kids with mental health problems have a harder time keeping a job as an adult. 

These are findings that researchers like Ben Amick weren't shocked by.

"We didn't find things that we didn't expect to find, but we didn't expect to find as significant findings as we did," he said.

Amick has spent a lot of time studying mental health issues and the impact that it has on our society.

"There's always going to be a stigma with mental health. Unfortunately, it's just the nature of the game," he said.

One of the studies that Amick was most recently a part of could be a game changer though. 

"We actually know how to solve these problems. We just have to commit and do it," he said.

As an Associate Dean of Research at UAMS, Amick worked with a research group in the Netherlands and studied 1,200 people who had mental health issues between the ages of 11 and 29.

He said they focused on how early life experiences impacted their work experiences.

"This was really the first study that's looked at this issue of mental health and work-role functioning," Amick said.

After assessing the child's mental health from 2011, they continued to follow them as they entered the workforce. 

According to Amick, the team of researchers found that those who really struggled with mental health at a young age had trouble meeting the demands of their job about 30% of the time.

"If you think of a work week, that's a day and a half every week that you as a person are saying you have trouble meeting the demands of the job," he said.

This is why Amick believes services for kids need to be more accessible and available.

"It really isn't that complicated in my book. It's a resource issue," he said.

At the end of the day, Amick said the study shows what they've always known-- that mental health is a major problem that can lead to consequences later in life.

"We've got to get our handles on this now, and start worrying about it," he said.

The study also showed that children who struggle with mental health also struggle academically.

That's why Amick believes the state needs to build more mental health resources into schools.

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