WASHINGTON — Three national health organizations say children face a mental health crisis and are calling on lawmakers at all levels to take action.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) are all declaring a state of emergency for children’s mental health.
These national agencies say the toll of the pandemic is really taking a toll on children and causing higher rates of depression, anxiety and even suicide.
It’s something that single mom Micha James said she understood. She found a therapist for her son before the pandemic because she wanted him to have another black man in his life to talk to.
“It still takes a village to raise a child and there is no harm in needing help and part of our village is a mental health care provider,” James said.
She said it was a lifesaver when the pandemic hit and the school closed.
“He was like, I just can’t keep doing this at home. It doesn’t work for me mentally,” she said.
But as classrooms reopened, another tragedy struck her son’s world. There was a fatal shooting at her son’s high school in September.
“He was compassionate, empathetic and sympathetic. But one of the main things he said was that I hope they let us go back to school. I can’t spend another year of virtual learning. It’s a shame that our students don’t have the ability or the opportunity to say, “Hey, let me take a moment, let me take a step back,” James said. “They were two days away, but his goal is to get to that finish line and he knew to get to that finish line he had to be back in person.”
“COVID should really be a wake-up call for us to make some key changes,” said Dr. Tamar Mendelson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) want lawmakers to address this crisis with several steps.
Some of these actions include increasing funding for school-based mental health care, fully funding community behavioral health services, and improving access to technology for telemedicine.
“Also, the trauma trainings for all school staff are really helpful in making people more aware of what young people are going through and how to respond in a positive way,” Dr Mendelson said.
These agencies also want increased access to mental health screenings for children and adolescents.
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