A Tuesday report from advocacy group #MentalHealth America (MHA) says that a majority of states are not ready to address #youth #mentalhealth as schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning in the fall.
The analysis reports that just 14 states have fully expanded #Medicaid to cover #mentalhealthservices in #schools, and only a handful have legislation requiring #mentalhealth education.
The lack of access and education make the states unprepared to deal with #mentalhealthissues among #children, which were exacerbated by the #pandemic, the report said.
It calls for state and federal officials to prioritize improving #mentalhealth education, support and services in #schools as the back-to-school season approaches.
MHA’s analysis did praise several states for their work in enhancing school-based #mentalhealthservices, including Oregon for allowing #mentalhealth as an excuse for absences and New York and Virginia for requiring #mentalhealth education.
“Although some states have led the way, no state has fully enacted a set of laws and policies that would comprehensively improve #youth #mentalhealth,” the report reads.
The report recommends the development of a national strategy to approach #youth #mentalhealth based on successful state programs, said Mary Giliberti, MHA’s executive vice president of policy.
“This is a national problem, and it needs a national response, and it needs a response, frankly, at every level of government,” she said.
Art McCoy, superintendent emeritus of Jennings School District in St. Louis, said that a national playbook is necessary to set expectations and targets for states.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
“Without that nationally, you get Swiss cheese across the country with holes in it,” said McCoy, who is a member of the MHA Board of Directors. “And the sheer fact of the matter is that everyone deserves to be supported.”
The majority of states also do not meet the recommended ratio of #students to #mentalhealthprofessionals, according to the analysis, making it difficult to address #students’ needs.
Recent high #school graduate Ben Ballman advocated for more #mentalhealthprofessionals in his #school district in Montgomery County, Maryland, after researching how high the average number of #students per counselor is.
“That’s just not possible to build a relationship with each of the #students, be there for each of the #students and see which of the #students are struggling,” Ballman said.
#Children of color are more likely to receive school-based #mentalhealthservices than white #children, so limited resources can also lead to disparities in who is getting care.
Although #Black and #Latino children are less likely than white children to get #mentalhealthtreatment for #depression, they made up the largest increases in the proportion of youth experiencing #suicidalideation between 2019 and 2020, the report said.
Advocates say the #coronavirus #pandemic worsened an already existing #mentalhealthcrisis devastating young people. The percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who reported a past-year major depressive episode doubled over 10 years, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Last year saw a 628 percent increase in 11- to 17-year-olds who took a #mentalhealth screening through MHA compared to 2019. The age group also recorded higher rates of #anxiety and #depression than #adults.
In a recent report, the #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention also recorded a rise in suspected #suicide attempts among 12- to 17-year-old #girls early this year compared to pre-#pandemic levels.