Listen to this article

The U.S. does a poor job of adequately addressing the mental health needs of our children. According to recent estimates, one in five children in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable mental health condition. However, on average, only 15 percent of the children in need actually receive services.

The societal consequences of not treating youth mental health disorders are staggering. These youths are more likely to struggle in school, engage in substance use and attempt suicide.

The World Economic Forum issued a report that states mental illness has a larger economic impact on society than cancer, heart disease or diabetes.

Despite this fact, the U.S. continues to struggle to develop a comprehensive mental health system that can meet the needs of children. Many children are unable to access services, especially those children who are living in rural or impoverished areas. For children living in these areas, they often are unable to access mental health services due to long wait times, lack of providers who accept public insurance or the availability of providers.

If we as a society can consider and logically implement a mental health care system that is able to meet the needs of our children, we will reap the long-term benefits. The likelihood that these children will grow up to be healthy, contributing members of society would be greatly increased if their mental health needs are addressed early on.

JILL MILLER

Homer

News-Gazette