Mental Health Care for Kids Lacking in U.S.

Funding finalized for new Edmonton mental health centre for children

Half of all American children with a mental health condition are not getting the necessary treatment.

Researchers looking at data from a survey of almost 50 million kids, ages six through 18, filled out by their parents, found that 7.7 million children had at least one mental health condition.

The facility will include child and adolescent crisis services, including walk-in and urgent clinics as well as 101 inpatient beds, specialized outpatient clinics, a mobile response team, intensive school-based treatment with school programming on site, mental health programs, therapeutic recreational programs, and a family resource centre. On the state level, children with at least one mental health issue ranged from 7.6% in Hawaii to more than 27% in Maine.

And there's a severe shortage of mental health providers who treat children and adolescents.

Mark Peterson, associate professor at University of Michigan Medicine and senior author of the study, who's had a long history of studying health conditions that start in childhood and result in disabilities later on in life didn't expect to find such high numbers. Children without current health insurance and those under age 6 were excluded from the analysis.

Above: Minister Hoffman announces the new Children and Adolescent Mental Health Centre with MLA Shepherd, Dr. Verna Yiu, Annie Belley and Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation representatives including Mike House.

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"For parents who are anxious about their child or their teen when they're in a time of crisis, we know that it's very hard and it can be very stressful", Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said.

Researchers found only half of them got treatment or counseling from a mental health provider in the last 12 months.

Even in states with appropriate provisions for families seeking mental health treatment, there may not be enough qualified providers.

Among the challenges, families are concerned about the stigma of a mental health condition and being able to afford treatment.

There are many systems in this country aimed at caring for children, Robles-Ramamurthy said, including the education system, the health care system, the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system.

"All of these systems that are supposed to be caring for children often times are not talking to each other", said Robles-Ramamurthy.

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