THE MENTAL HEALTH GAP: WHY KIDS AREN’T GETTING THE CARE THEY NEED

According to the Office of Adolescent Health, approximately one in five adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder, and nearly a third show symptoms of depression. Yet a recent study revealed that less than half of adolescents with psychiatric disorders received any kind of treatment in the preceding year.

Clearly, there is a gap in care. But why? Here are four of the biggest obstacles preventing adolescents from accessing mental health services:

1. SOCIAL STIGMA
Parents can be reluctant to seek a diagnosis or services because they fear their child will be ostracized. Later, an older child or teen might reject mental health services in an effort to avoid negative labels, taunts or bullying.

2. UNEQUAL ACCESS
Among adolescents, those least likely to receive mental health services include persons who are homeless, served by a state child welfare or juvenile justice system, or lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

3. INADEQUATE INSURANCE
For children and teens without insurance coverage, mental health services can be difficult – seemingly impossible – to obtain. Even with insurance, the amount of mental health services covered is often limited.

4. DIAGNOSING DIFFICULTY
Initially identifying a mental health disorder is challenging. Some parents or caregivers might downplay problem behaviors as a phase or just “being difficult,” while others aren’t sure where to turn for help. Issues are often first identified at school.

Methodist Family Health works to address these and other barriers by serving children and their families all across Arkansas with a wide variety of mental health services. From school-based programs and outpatient counseling to acute hospital care, our professionals are committed to treating the whole person: behaviorally, emotionally and spiritually.

Please help us provide hope for hurting children with a tax-deductible donation during ArkansasGives at www.ArkansasGives.org on Thursday, April 6.