According to a scientific paper published in JAMA Pediatrics Monday, one in seven US children and adolescents has a mental health condition. Almost half of an estimated 7.7 million children with at least one mental health disorder do not have access to professional medical help, the report found out.
The researchers compiled data from the 2016 National Survey of Health. It is a parent-proxy study of minor U.S. children. Based on all the 50,212 completed questionnaires, the scientists from Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, concluded that 16.5 percent or 7.7 million out of 46.6 million kids in the country suffer from at least one mental health disorder.
The results also revealed that nearly 50 percent of children with mental health complaints did not receive any professional medical treatment. The exact numbers vary per state. For instance, in Hawaii, 7.6 percent of minor respondents were diagnosed with at least one mental health condition, while their percentage in Main boosted to 27.2.
The number of kids and adolescents with a proven mental health problem who lacked adequate medical help also differed per state, from 29.5 percent in Washington D.C. to 72.2 percent in North Carolina.
Although the statistics may sound striking to the general public, the professionals in the field were not surprised by them. Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, commented that she was already aware of the fact that the number of children suffering from mental health issues and not getting proper medical help is continually increasing.
According to Dr. Ramamurthy, there are numerous obstacles for children and their parents when it comes to accessing mental health services. At first place explained she is the social stigma. Concerned about public opinion, many parents prefer not to disclose the mental health problems of their children. The lack of proper health insurance to cover specialized medical help is also a burden for many, noted Dr. Ramamurthy.
In her view, all the numerous government institutions that are supposed to take care of the children, including the juvenile justice system, the education, and healthcare systems, as well as the child welfare system often do not communicate effectively between each other, causing additional barriers for children in need of support.
She warned that untreated mental illnesses could result in negative consequences for families and society such as suicide, academic decline, and unemployment, urging for immediate measures.
Do you believe that the institutions in charge would listen to her?