Prescribing Pills to Children


Mental health has become a topic of interest globally in the recent past. This is evidenced by the increased number of campaigns communicating the need to raise awareness and have effective treatment methods Cite. There is a significant increase in the number of people suffering from different mental disorders cite. The number of children and adolescents that suffer from these disorders is a significant cause for alarm for parents, medical practitioners and other stakeholders worldwide.

The increased number of children diagnosed with these mental disorders daily has ignited discussions and research around treatment approaches. Currently, little is known of how to handle pediatric mental illnesses especially among general practitioners. Should children receive the same prescriptions handed out to adults suffering similar conditions? Minimal research has been carried out on the impact of pharmaceutical treatment on children Citations…this is a big thing as I have just read tese pargraphs Are therapeutic approaches to treatment more effective in this age group? Some factors should get considered before accepting or denying this approach to treatment.

History of Prescriptions to Children

Researchers have identified a significant increase in the cases of mental health challenges among children over the years cite. The rise in cases was identified as the increased physical health improvement rate – unclear. The two fields of health have been seemingly indirectly proportional. This is sometimes referred to as the post-war period. An approximation was made that one in five children experience some symptoms of a psychosocial disorder within a year—of what??? (Parens & Johnston, 2008). A large percentage of disorders are identified before the age of 14 (cite). In some cases, however, preschoolers are affected by these disorders. In some scenarios, the symptoms become extreme and require significant attention.

The result of this is that there has been an increase in the uptake of medicine designed for such disorders. This is the expected parallel effect of the increase in the rates of diagnosis. As expected, pharmaceutical companies have taken charge and released a number of drugs designed for mental health patients. Between 2000 and 2003, there was a 20% increase in children under 19 years who had a prescription for their mental health (Parens & Johnston, 2008). This is mirrored by the increased amount of spending on drugs recorded within the same period.

The uptake of medical solutions for mental health problems among children has been a cause of alarm. As a result, social scientists have tried to identify the reason behind the increased diagnosis of disorders. This is meant to influence the decisions on how to treat these disorders once diagnosed in children. Anthropologists have compared parenting methods between America and other regions with lower rates of diagnosis. They have posited that the American culture tends to overstimulate children, requiring medicine like Ritalin for treatment (Parens & Johnston, 2008). This is a conclusion made by scientists which attempts to explain the rise in such conditions within the country. Conclusively, most scientists seem to agree that the environment a child is brought up in plays a significant role in their mental development.

In the history of the science of psychology, there have been different treatment approaches for different conditions and disorders. One of the most popular approaches was discovered through the study of stimuli. From this, behavioral therapy was identified as a solution for some conditions among adults and children. One of the earliest scientists, Mary Jones, applied this therapy approach to treat a boy with severe phobia (Barlow & Durand, 2015). This is considered one of the earliest cases of the success of behavioral therapy as a treatment method

Despite the excellence of this approach, some questions seemingly remained unanswered. The approach was effective in some cases and not all. In addition, little attention was paid to the biological aspect of such psychopathology. Historically, such conditions were considered to be a result of environmental factors (Barlow & Durand, 2015). However, with increased research, it is evident that such disorders can stem from biological challenges.

Once the connection between biological factors and psychopathology was discovered, there was a need to introduce a pharmaceutical approach to the treatment process. This led to the development of drugs designed to treat psychosocial conditions in adults. The science might have been implemented among adults first due to the prevalence of cases within the age group. Following the increase in diagnoses among children in the recent past, there is a need for extensive research on treatment solutions. There are different pros and cons to pharmaceutical solutions for children.

Merits of Prescribing Pills

While there is minimal research in the field, there are some advantages drawn from pharmaceutical solutions for mental health among children. One major merit of this treatment approach is that it creates room for solutions at an early stage of life. Previously, little attention was paid to the effects of psychosocial disorders among children. However, it is evident that these disorders can lead to more extreme mental illnesses at a later age cite. The nineteenth century is commonly referred to as the period before severe mental health conditions became prevalent (Colizzi et al., 2020). It was characterized by low-risk signs and symptoms among the younger generation. Early diagnosis and treatment of these disorders go a long way in the prevention of such illnesses. In addition, starting the treatment process early allows the medical practitioner to customize a treatment plan for the individual over time. This is because it creates time for constant monitoring and evaluation.

Demerits of Prescribing Pills

Similar to physiological health conditions, psychological conditions present differently between children and adults. The symptoms may have different levels of severity between the two age groups. In addition, toddlers have different presentations in comparison to teenagers. Therefore, the differences in mental illnesses are different dependent on the age group. However, insufficient research has been done on mental health conditions among pediatric patients (Lakhan & Hagger-Johnson, 2007). As a result, the assumption that mental health conditions present similarly in both demographics gets applied during the treatment process (Lakhan & Hagger-Johnson, 2007). Most general practitioners lack in-depth knowledge of this field and may end up prescribing drugs to pediatric mental patientscite . This results in unforeseen side effects on the child’s mental health. Continuous use of psychotropic medication has previously been associated with making teens more suicidal cite.

Teenage is a stage where many children struggle between autonomy in their decision-making versus respecting their parents’ decisions. Many youths in that age bracket will have a hard time deciding on how to treat any mental health issues. There is a pull between the individual’s opinion versus their parent’s choices for them. There are different effects that may come out of pharmaceutical treatment for any condition. One prevalent negative effect of using psychotropic medication is that they tend to advertise the individual’s mental condition to people around them (McMillan et al., 2020)—stigma??. This is achieved by the prevalent side effects of these medications–unclear. Consequentially, this affects the social life of the young individual. Mental health is associated with significant stigma, especially within this age group. As a result, public knowledge that an individual is under medication for a specific mental condition would lead their peers to avoid them more. In addition, they often end up as a source of ridicule among their peers, which might worsen their mental health.

A study carried out in Australia further identified a financial con to the use of mental health medication among the youth. Most of the medication in this category is not subsidized by the Australian Government. This is the situation in many countries. As a result, most youth can barely afford it, especially in a situation where they lack support from their family. This might lead to desperation for these pills. Consequentially, they may employ unethical methods to acquire their medication. Some youths have shared medication with their peers who may have similar conditions (McMillan et al., 2020)-good inclusion . This may result in adverse effects on an individual due to the intake of the wrong dosages. This is especially discouraging, especially in a scenario where other treatment approaches could have been applied before resulting in medication.


There is a significant deficit in research material on the use of medication for psychiatric conditions among children. There has been a rise in the diagnosis of such conditions, especially among preschool children (Madden et al., 2014). Ideally, this should be accompanied by extensive research to identify the best way to treat such conditions among children. However, this has not been the case. Most prescriptions for children are arrived by extrapolating adult prescriptions (Madden et al., 2014). While this may seem ideal, it is evident that arriving at a prescription for children should involve more consideration than equations. One significant consideration should be the different stages within pediatric patients. For instance, a dosage applied for a teenager might be detrimental or ineffective for a preschool-age child.

Due to insufficient research, there is little consideration of the fact that children have developing brains. There is little knowledge of how these drugs may interact with the developing brains and the possible effects of the same. Research done on animals has led to some concerning discoveries. For instance, exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors at a young age has shown evidence of increased anxiety levels and behavior in adult mice (Madden et al., 2014). It is safe to assume that these results would be replicated in a human brain in its developing stages. While supporters may argue this is an indication of the optimal time for intervention during development (Madden et al., 2014), the stakes are significantly high for this treatment approach. There is a need for more data on the effects of this medication on a developing brain.


Mental health decline can be considered a global problem currently. The high number of children and pre-adolescents that are suffering from these illnesses is alarming. These numbers call for more intensive and informative studies on the causes and treatment approaches that would be effective. This is a field of research that still experiences significant deficits. The increased number of diagnoses among children has resulted in an increased number of pill prescriptions by medical practitioners. This has been a cause of alarm for many stakeholders.

There have been questions on whether this is the best approach to treat children with mental disorders. There is evidence that disorders at a young age end up manifesting s extreme mental illnesses at a later age. The major advantage of prescribing pills at a young age is that the condition gets managed effectively before it can get worse. An individual also gets constant monitoring.

However, the pharmaceutical approach’s demerits seem to outweigh this advantage. Currently, prescriptions are made with the assumption that children are tiny adults. This disregards the developmental process experienced in childhood, which can be interfered with by the use of pills. The demerits of pill prescriptions can easily disrupt the mental, social and financial development of children and teenagers. There is a need for further research before pharmaceuticals are engaged as the primary method of treatment.



Barlow, & Durand. (2015). Abnormal Psychology AN I NTEGRATIVE A PPROACH (8th ed., pp. 20–23). Cengage Learning.

Colizzi, Lasalvia, & Ruggeri. (2020, March). Prevention and early intervention in youth mental health: is it time for a multidisciplinary and trans-diagnostic model for care? International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 14(23). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13033-020-00356-9

Lakhan, S. E., & Hagger-Johnson, G. E. (2007). The impact of prescribed psychotropics on youth. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, 3(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-0179-3-21

Madden, Black, & Willsie. (2014). Treating Our Youngest Patients: Psychotropic Medications in Early Childhood. Missouri Medicine, 111(3), 207–211. https://doi.org/PMC6179566

McMillan, S. S., Stewart, V., Wheeler, A. J., Kelly, F., & Stapleton, H. (2020, July 30). Medication management in the context of mental illness: an exploratory study of young people living in Australia. BMC Public Health, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09237-9

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2008, January). Understanding the Agreements and Controversies Surrounding Childhood Psychopharmacology. FOCUS, 6(3), 322–330. https://doi.org/10.1176/foc.6.3.foc322