STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) – Mental Health America magazine ranks Virginia No. 48 out of 51 countries overall for youth mental health care.
In 2022, Mental Health America (MHA) ranked Virginia No. 21 overall, but that ranking plummeted to No. 48 following multiple policy changes and bills to increase access to services for Virginians.
United States No. 48:
The metrics used to rank states are based on seven themes:
- Adolescents who have had at least one episode of major depressive disorder (MDE) in the past year
- Teens with substance use disorder in the past year
- Adolescents with severe MDE
- Youth with MDE not receiving mental health services
- Adolescents with severe MDE received some ongoing treatment (7-25 sessions)
- Teenagers with private insurance that does not cover mental or emotional problems
- Student (K+) experiencing emotional disturbance as a result of an individualized education plan.
These topics do not cover all mental health disorders, however, they provide the necessary momentum for organizations such as MHAs and legislators to make changes when needed or continue to provide the same services. Virginia’s plunge has lawmakers concerned, especially after numerous pieces of legislation and policies were introduced or enacted to help Virginia curb the commonwealth’s mental health crisis.
“These are not numbers to be proud of and they raise serious concerns for legislators, administrators and I think it’s important to note legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said District 35 Representative Chris Runion. “
Runyon said the main issue with mental health in the Valley and other parts of the commonwealth is not the affordability of mental health services, but the number of providers available to provide them. In “Right Help”. Now. ” Education for mental health professionals is one of the next steps in the commonwealth under Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s initiative. Youngkin plans to add one at the associate’s degree level, the VA Health and Human Resources website reported New “Behavioral Health Aide” program.
“We are working very hard to provide resources and clearly more needs to be done,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. “I wanted to understand why VA’s position changed so drastically in one year.”
Mental health issues in teenagers:
Mental health disorders and concerns are an invisible condition. Unlike the flu or cold, where you can take someone’s temperature or see a stuffy/runny nose, someone struggling with mental health can put a smile on their face while fighting a never-ending battle behind their eyes.
Teenagers across the United States and the Commonwealth struggle with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. These problems can be diagnosed by professionals, but not by ordinary people. Organizations like MHA work to educate about mental health, remove the stigma associated with conversations about mental health issues, and help people in need get the appropriate resources, whether they are 45 or 15.
“We’re starting to understand that by age 14, a lot of teenagers are already experiencing a lot of mental health symptoms,” said Bruce Blair, executive director of MHA in Augusta. “Unfortunately, currently there is often an 11-year gap between symptoms and treatment.”
The impact of the mental health crisis goes far beyond throwing money at the problem and hoping for results. Mr Blair said fundamental changes, such as the current bill, would help alleviate problems for families across the Commonwealth.
Substance abuse is an issue that scares many people in the Shenandoah Valley and other parts of Virginia. As the fentanyl crisis worsens, people are often getting fentanyl instead of the recreational drug they expected from dealers. Although the issue is often talked about among adults, children are not immune to the effects of addiction.
“Substance abuse is a growing problem in our community that not only affects adults, but also greatly affects teenagers. We are seeing young people understand this,” Blair said. “We see young people desperately needing more help in this area and I think education is important in this area.”
How does the Commonwealth rebound?
The first step for the U.S. Virginia government and legislators is to identify the shortcomings of the previous year. The Home Office website shows some scary statistics that officials are currently trying to address.
One in six children with private health insurance does not have emotional or mental health issues covered by their insurance. That statistic doesn’t address the number of children without health care, but those with insurance for a broken arm or sprained ankle can’t receive treatment without covering the upfront costs of all illnesses. Unlike other illnesses, mental health disorders cannot be cured with a single visit to the doctor. If the next generation struggles with mental illness, it could translate into more problems.
Blair said solutions to Virginia’s mental health issues are not one-stop. According to him, this will require people from multiple levels of power. However, a clear first step is to improve school programs. By improving the resources available to school counselors and administrators and increasing the staff available in schools, students can get the specialized care they need faster than before.
“A lot of it is school-based support and making sure we have enough staff in the school system so that the school system has adequate support,” Blair said. “So it’s not one counselor responsible for 700 kids, it’s It’s no good for anyone.”
Governor Youngkin’s “Right Help.” Now. ” This program does more than provide students with a new degree program to enter the field of mental health care. It is a catalyst and guide to funding for a problem plaguing the commonwealth. The initiative is designed to help fund telehealth in schools. Employ hundreds of providers and will Its placement in Virginia is a tall order, but allowing schools to outsource support to other parts of the country will make it easier for children to receive immediate mental health services.
As they age, the culture and community around children play an important role in their growth and development. Mr Blair said the mental health crisis would only get worse if communities gave up on young people.
“I think the community around schools, the community around youth and access to services for them, whether they have insurance, Medicaid, private insurance or no insurance, is really important,” Blair said.
Legislation on mental health:
An important step in addressing mental health issues is at the Capitol in Richmond and the U.S. Capitol. Whether it’s a U.S. Senator, Virginia State Representative, or any other elected official, policy changes and funding allocations are critical to addressing the mental health crisis.
The bipartisan Safe Communities Act addresses a range of needs across America. Mental health resources for adults and children are at the forefront of this bill. This legislation would provide hundreds of millions of dollars to states to help build robust mental health services and crisis supports for anyone in need. The legislation also follows Youngkin’s initiative to bring more programs into schools to help reduce wait times for students.
Senator Kaine has introduced a bill to help create “community schools” across the United States. A community school is a public school with funding and resources very similar to a community center. Not only is it meant to help students develop in more ways than education, but it also gives students access to more specific and effective mental health resources in the same corridors of learning.
The Ovo Otieno bill will help people experiencing crisis connect with their families. Parents/relatives will be able to accompany family members who are experiencing mental health struggles and be there for them in their darkest moments.
What to expect in 2024 and beyond:
WHSV reported on proposals for crisis support centers in the Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro areas. Not only is this initiative underway in the SAW region, but other rural counties and high-need areas are looking to upgrade existing facilities or build new ones to help.
When it comes to youth mental health, Blair said there’s an important voice missing from the conversation that needs to be included to help make the best decisions.
“It’s getting young people involved and having youth leadership help shape some of the policies and shape some of the things that are to be done in the school system,” Blair said. “I believe young people are ready to speak out now. Young people are very concerned about mental health and They’re very open about their concerns, I think more so than ever before.”
As more policies and procedures are introduced to help address issues in the Shenandoah Valley, WHSV will keep you updated on the latest information on fighting the mental health crisis. However, if you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, or is considering suicide, the 988 suicide prevention hotline is available 24/7. The hotline will connect someone with the appropriate people to help them cope with the internal struggles they may be facing.
Copyright 2024 WHSV. all rights reserved.