Federal agencies ask states to prioritize ‘youth mental health crisis’ – SheKnows

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Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, children and teens continue to face what federal agencies have identified as a “national youth mental health crisis.”

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The US Department of Health and Human Services addressed the situation in a letter signed by six HHS agencies, encouraging states to take action and reallocate federal funds to prioritize children’s mental health. .

No additional financial support will be provided at the federal level, though the memo offers ways for states to expand mental health services, stressing the importance of methodically approving grants, state Medicaid plans, waivers and other resources for programs supporting children in need.

While it’s better late than never, teens and children had mental health issues long before the pandemic hit: According to HHS studies, anxiety in children ages 3 to 17 increased by 29% from 2016 to 2020, while depression also increased by 27%. Of course, this has only been exacerbated by social isolation, lockdowns and homeschooling, as 71% of parents said the pandemic had a negative impact on their child’s mental health. A national survey also found that at least a third of teens felt more unhappy and/or depressed since the start of the pandemic.

HHS hopes that states will address these issues with child mental health task forces that identify specific areas of concern that states could expand on, such as the wide disparity between the number of children with need help and available mental health practitioners.

“There is a significant gap between the number of providers we have to provide services for children and the need, the demand that we see for these services,” said Ariste Sallas-Brookwell, licensed clinical social worker and director of the integration of behavioral health at Mary’s Center in Washington DC, told NBC News, adding that the pandemic had contributed to children’s pre-existing issues.

“We saw an increase in anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm,” Sallas-Brookwell continued. “We know parents and caregivers were much more stressed because they didn’t have the same child care or family support. They were financially strained. All of these things have an impact on children.

Before you go, check out our favorite apps to encourage a little more mental health TLC:
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