A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that many children who need mental health care are not getting it.
“Most children whose emotions or behavior, as reported by their parent or guardian, indicated a potential need for a mental health service did not receive any services within the same year,” the GAO wrote.
“The report comes after Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.) requested that the GAO look into how psychotropic drugs affect the long-term development of kids who grow up in foster care. While the report is very specific in its scope, it’s sure to be a relevant piece of evidence as the Obama administration formulates policy to deal with the ramifications of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting. The shooting has sparked a nationwide debate on gun control, but it has also directed America’s attention to the state of its mental health care system. “
“Here are some findings:
- On average, 6.2 percent of noninstitutionalized children in Medicaid and 4.8 percent of privately insured kids received psychotropic medications.
- 30 percent of foster children who might have required mental health care didn’t receive them over the last year.
- Most kids outside the foster care system whose behavior displayed red flags didn’t receive mental care services.
- Many kids who got psychotropic medication didn’t get counseling or therapy to complete the care.
- While the National Institutes of Health spent1.2 billion on children’s mental health care research between 2008 and 2011, most of the funding focused on research studying therapy, rather than the effects of such medication. “
I think not getting mental health care is true for kids outside the foster care system as well and for many reasons
I think in many cases parents aren’t open to the idea of getting psychological help for their kids. They don’t believe in therapists or think it’s embarrassing.
I think a lot of mental health professionals don’t take insurance so the cost is prohibitive. I think a lot of the public facilities that offer care inside insurance programs or for free are overwhelmed by children who need help.
I think many school systems would rather punish kids and force them out of the school than help provide the mental health supports they need.
Sen. Harkin said the study was alarming and I agree there is much work to be done for mental health care for children (and adults).
Does it surprise you that parents wouldn’t get psychological help for their kids when it was indicated that it was needed? Have you encountered mental health professionals that won’t accept your mental health insurance benefits? Do you think it’s hard to find mental health professionals that you feel good about for your kids? What do you think of this study?