THE DISCUSSION of the role of the pediatrician in promoting good mental health was introduced by Dr. Wolf with these questions: In the prevention of mental illness, where are we as pediatricians? What is our goal? To highlight the magnitude of the questions he pointed out that, according to statistics, of every 12 babies born today 1 will spend a portion of his life in a mental hospital. One-third of the nation's health bills are spent for mental illness. With the better training centers working at full capacity, there will not be enough psychiatrists to catch up with the case-load of mentally sick persons now existing. In the area of mental health we must do more than pay lip service to the prevention of mental illness. In medicine the sequence has always been: First, find out what is wrong (diagnosis), then correct this (treatment), and finally, prevent the malady (prophylaxis). The cardinal point is surely prevention. We must find ways of preventing mental breakdown and obviously the pediatrician having contact with children while personalities are forming must be a leader in promoting mental health.
There was active discussion of the pediatrician's role in mental health; of the ingredients of mental health; of the considerations in evaluating health and illness; and of the education of parents by pediatricians alert to developmental needs of children. The pediatrician must recognize that he has a key role to play in observing the manifestations of physical, psychological and emotional health. Each physician will play his role in accordance with his special interests, be they in practice alone, in nursery school affiliations, in recreational, educational on treatment facilities. He can be expected to be asked for advice as someone well-qualified to survey these areas.
- Copyright © 1956 by the American Academy of Pediatrics