Half of the children in the United States with some type of mental disorder do not receive treatment, revealed a recently published study. The researchers analyzed data collected from the 2016 National Child Health Survey, a nationwide survey administered to parents of young adolescents.

The findings revealed that of the 46.6 million young people in the 6 to 18 age group whose parents completed the survey, around 7.7 million adolescents suffered from at least one type of mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or attention deficit. / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, a year before this survey was conducted, only half of these children received counseling or some type of treatment offered by a mental health provider.

The survey further showed that the percentage of young adolescents diagnosed with a mental health disorder and who do not receive any treatment from a provider ranged widely from 72.2 percent in North Carolina to 29.5 percent in the District of North Carolina. Columbia. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in February 2019.

What do child and adolescent psychiatrists have to say?

Co-author Mark Peterson, associate professor at the University of Michigan (Medicine), said he reflected on the conditions that affect children at a young age holistically. But you were surprised to see such a high percentage of young teens not receiving mental health treatment in the US.

However, the child psychiatrists did not seem too surprised by the results. Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Long School of Medicine at the University of Texas (UT) Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, said that sadly, this was not news to her . In fact, she was well informed about the fact that the percentage of adolescents with mental illness who remained untreated in the US was quite high.

Explaining further, Dr. Jennifer Mautone, consulting psychiatrist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that families and children with mental illness face a number of challenges when it is about accessing mental health treatment services, thus contributing to high rates of no treatment.

Extreme shortage of mental health providers

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) revealed that the United States was facing an extreme shortage of practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists. According to available data, there were fewer than 17 healthcare providers for every 100,000 teens.

This indicates that many families had to wait a long time for treatment, which deteriorated the primary mental health condition of the affected child. Additionally, the qualified providers available faced significant challenges in interacting with other existing systems responsible for the care of these children. Some of these systems included the health, education, childcare, and adolescent justice system. All of these systems were supposed to take care of the child, but none of them interacted with each other, resulting in half-hearted care.

A ray of hope

Many pediatric health systems have begun to integrate mental health services into their practice, to promote timely intervention of mental health services for children. Even mental health providers, by integrating with pediatricians, take advantage of the trust factor that is already prevalent in patients and can reach families in a familiar environment. One such program was the Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Initiative at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, led by Dr. Mautone.

In the last two years, this initiative managed to serve more than 2,500 patients. Robles-Ramamurthy, saw this as a positive development. However, he feels that there is much more to accomplish. Many families still view the presence of mental illness in their family as a personal failure and are afraid to address it for fear of the associated stigma. The work to destigmatize mental illness really began only a decade ago. Another obstacle parents face is insurance coverage. Some of the teens are covered, while others are not adequately covered.

Teen Mental Health Treatment at ADEONA Healthcare

Mental illnesses, when left untreated in young adolescents, pose serious threats to the community, including unemployment, poor performance in school and in general life, and high suicide rates. At ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego, teens ages 12-17 receive comprehensive behavioral treatment programs for mental disorders and related problems. The facility offers a combination of individual and group therapies crucial to the successful treatment and recovery of mental disorders.

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