MADISON, Wisconsin – A new report on the state of children’s mental health in Wisconsin is mixed up, with some areas for improvement and other areas showing continued decline before the pandemic.
The report by the State Children’s Mental Health Bureau, released on Tuesday, shows that some indicators, such as high school graduation rates and the number of school counselors and other mental health workers, have made progress. Still, racial differences in graduation rates persist and the current supply of mental health professionals is still insufficient, said Linda Hall, the agency’s director.
The report also shows that while the indicators appear to show progress in reducing the number of children with mental illness who went untreated and the number of psychiatric hospitalizations, the numbers “do not reflect the increase in hospitalizations over the past year and reflect the worsening of the lack of beds ”. and emergency room for young people in crisis, ”added Hall.
Key mental health measures – the number of children with mental illness, sad or hopeless high school students, teens contemplating suicide and attempted suicide – seem to be going in the wrong direction, although the report has not had any suicide attempts and mental health concerns since the beginning Pandemic documented.
Other areas, like the number of students who don’t get at least eight hours of sleep each night, the percentage of students who felt they belonged in school, and the number of high school students who felt sad or hopeless, were all down before the pandemic back. The report fails to take into account the heightened mental health concerns amid the pandemic.
“In summary, the pandemic has been harsh for children, especially children and families with lost income, housing instability or food insecurity,” she said. “We see the continuation of the pre-pandemic trend of increasing anxiety and depression among adolescents. We see that Wisconsin’s investments to increase the number of school social workers, counselors, and psychologists have made a difference, but what is currently on offer does not meet the treatment needs of our youth. All of this is so worrying because we know that untreated mental illness as a child has a lifelong negative impact on the health and well-being of adults. “
Going forward, Hall said, governments and community leaders need to increase their focus on the problem in order to find solutions. Your agency focuses on improving children’s social networking and will be rolling out more concrete implementation ideas this year.
Research shows this will make a difference for kids, she added.
While Hall said the bigger picture was “daunting,” she stressed that Wisconsin was not alone and pointed out that US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a recommendation last month “to highlight the urgent need to address the psychological crisis of youth in the nation”.
As the current school year begins, a number of southern Wisconsin school districts identified mental health as one of the top funding goals they want to address with federal pandemic aid funds.
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