Will "mental health days" help America's children?

In some ways, there's not a lot to envy about growing up in our current climate. Children are exposed to stresses far earlier now than in previous generations, from mass shootings to social media and more. 

"It's a different world," said Dr. Peter Economou of Rutgers University. "The demands that are on students these days are much higher and there's no safety. You go home and you have social media, you have all these things that could be impressing more pressure on these students."

The mental health of America's children is and has been a crisis for our nation for years now. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death for 10-34-year-olds. 

"Half of mental illnesses emerge by the age of 14," said Paul Gionfriddo, President  & CEO of Mental Health America. "So these are diseases of childhood. Suicidal ideation and suicide rates are going up among kids."

Now, when it comes to mental health, experts say they are zeroing in on early detection and see a crucial opportunity to help. Two states, Oregon and Utah, have decided to allow students to take a "mental health day," separate from sick days. 

While it does not allow students to take a mental health day, this fall New York will be the first in the country to require mental health education as part of the regular curriculum. 

According to experts, the approach to mental illness so far has been to wait until what some call "Stage Four," when a child is in crisis, acting out and becoming a threat to themselves or others. However, experts say the signs are there as early as 14, during "Stage 1" when intervention is most effective. 

"You want kids to be able to stay in school longer, you want them to have good experiences at school, but you also want to see better outcomes and we would hope to see better outcomes in terms of overall health," Gionfriddo said.