From 2008-2015, the number of children admitted to children’s hospitals for suicidal thoughts or self-harm more than doubled. More than half of these admissions were among teens ages 15-17, with those ages 12-14 accounting for 39.5% and children ages 5-11 making up an additional 12.7% of admissions.
Suicide rates have increased among most groups, climbing to a 30-year high in 2014.
One factor contributing to the problem might be lack of access to mental health care. A new study points to the difficulties parents often face when seeking care for their children. For the study, researchers posed as parents of a 12-year-old with depression. They contacted 913 Blue Cross Blue Shield providers in the cities of Houston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Boston, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After calling twice, they got an appointment with a psychiatrist in just 17% of cases and a pediatrician 40% of the time.
Access barriers persisted at every stage of the search. Online directories were often out of date, with inaccurate information or listings for doctors who had moved or retired. Doctor shortages often meant long waits. Another recent study supports these findings, suggesting there are often long waits for childhood developmental specialists.mental health issue at some point. “Time to Change Wales,” a mental health awareness campaign that began in 2012, aims to reduce stigma and offer support to young people with mental health concerns. The pilot program features young people who have experienced mental health problems and will begin in three Welsh schools.
Increased awareness of mental health may not always be a good thing. Some people use mental health conditions to characterize their personality. For example, a neat freak is said to be “a little bit OCD” and a person remembering a negative experience at school may have had a “flashback.” This language can increase stigma, causing people to conflate the challenges of daily life with the more pronounced challenges of mental health conditions. Making mental health issues sound like minor annoyances can also discredit those with diagnosed mental health conditions.
The loss of a spouse can be isolating, particularly in old age. Research has shown support groups may help, but geographic restrictions, mobility impairments, and similar factors can make it difficult for seniors to access these groups. New research suggests online support groups can overcome these barriers while offering quality support.
The Affordable Care Act guaranteed several essential health benefits, including maternity coverage, mental health coverage, and pediatric care. The Republican-backed American Health Care Act (AHCA) stands to roll back many of these benefits, potentially undermining the health of women and babies. This opinion piece talks about how maternity coverage could end, women with postpartum depression may be unable to access treatment, and basic pediatric care could become inaccessible.
Loved ones are often eager to help people experiencing psychological distress, but there are limits on what they can do. When a loved one experiences intense psychological suffering or symptoms of a mental health condition, seeing a therapist can help. One way to encourage a loved one to seek therapy is to remove the stigma of asking for help from a professional. Nearly half of respondents to one survey said someone in their household had seen a therapist, suggesting therapy is helpful to a wide range of people.
Pet dogs can help reduce the effects of stressful experiences for children, according to a study of 100 children. Children who engaged with their dogs during a stressful experience had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggesting a less pronounced reaction to stress.
© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.