World news – Op-Ed: Our children’s mental health can’t wait


Amy Kennedy, MS

March 29, 2021

It’s been a year since the word « COVID » became part of our national vocabulary. Lives have been lost, families have struggled to survive, and our collective mental health has suffered in unimaginable ways. We have all felt grief, insecurity and stress – and our nation’s youth are no exception.

A new analysis from FAIR Health found that teenage demands for mental health skyrocketed over the past year amid the pandemic although their need for medical care has generally declined. The percentage of all medical claim lines that were deliberately self-injured nearly doubled in March and April compared to the same months in 2019. Overdose claims lines increased 94.91% in March and 119.31% in April.

From April through October 2020, the CDC found that US hospitals increased the percentage of mental health emergencies increased by 24% in children aged five to 11 years and by 31% in children aged 12 to 17 years. And yes, mental health emergencies include suicide attempts.

These are just a few examples from a number of current statistics that paint a troubling picture. The situation before us requires action, not just wishful thinking.

It is now the responsibility of all parents, educators and caregivers to mitigate the long-term consequences of the trauma that children go through. During my many years as a teacher, I have seen firsthand how a child’s mental health affects their ability to learn and grow – not just in the classroom, but in life as well.

When children have internal problems, they manifest often express their feelings in emotional outbursts, trouble interacting with their peers, difficulty paying attention, and much more. This is not a good sign in an environment where structure and collaboration are essential to success. The ripple effect of mental health problems can cost a child years of critical developmental milestones.

Even before the pandemic, many students suffered from mental illness that only applies to those who have been trauma due to racial differences, poverty, food insecurity, abuse, and much more to have. From 2009 to 2017, the rate of depression among children aged 14 to 17 increased by more than 60%. In addition, the rate of suicidal thoughts, plans, attempts, and deaths from young adults increased from 7% to 10.3%. COVID-19 has fueled the fire in a variety of ways.

The good news is that we have the opportunity through strategies like social-emotional learning and integrated mental health care systems that hit students where they are , to improve educational, emotional, and health outcomes for all.

But individual teachers cannot do this job alone. Serving our youth requires a systemic approach where schools get the support they need – from our government and partners in the community – to identify student needs and take early action while neuroplasticity is theirs Peak reached.

States need to create their own roadmaps for success. Fortunately, there are models to serve as a guide. For example, New Jersey’s Road Forward initiative is providing school districts across the state with $ 1.2 billion in COVID-19 relief funds for students and educators. This includes a $ 30 million mental health grant that is helping school districts simplify services and invest resources to best meet the unique needs of their community.

Our federal government also plays one Role. Representatives Grace Napolitano, D-Calif. And John Katko, RN.Y. introduced the Student Mental Health Services Act, which creates a $ 200 million grant program to fund mental health services in schools should. If required by law, it would be an important step in the right direction.

Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will provide billions in emergency funds to schools – although they could use the funds in a variety of ways that aren’t necessarily Include student mental health. Both federal laws hold promise and are urgently needed. However, there is still more we can do to properly address the unique, widespread trauma of COVID-19.

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently called on Congress to prioritize healing young people by targeting $ 7.5 billion investment – beyond the $ 4 billion already proposed – to be made in the mental health of adolescents aged 16-25, The Kennedy Forum agrees that such an investment is dramatic Increase in need would be appropriate and support adolescent mobile crisis response, peer support, expanded access to telemedicine, culturally engaging screening for unwanted childhood experiences (ACEs), and more.

With a little strategy and a lot of commitment we can make a difference. Addressing the mental health of our nation’s youth must be a priority, not an afterthought.

The material on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider.
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