Mental health and our youth: bringing awareness to an under-reported issue
Blog provided by the following Baylor College of Medicine Pediatric Residents at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio: Dr. Nga Tang, PGY1; Dr. Alyssa Estes, PGY1; Dr. Matthew Sattler, PGY1; Dr. Christian Molony, PGY1; Dr. Ashley Gabriel, PGY2; Dr. Andrew Milera, PGY2; Dr. Cody Clary, PGY2; Dr. Amanda Scully, PGY2; Dr. Lauren Kjolhede, PGY3; Dr. Ann Marie Mojica, PGY3; Dr. Pedro Zavala, PGY3
Children’s mental health is an important part of their well-being and overall health as they grow and develop into adults. Anxiety, depression, bullying, suicide, social media exposure, addiction, and even school shootings are all issues that our children face today.
A common denominator is that all are related to mental health. But how often do we truly address mental health on a daily basis? What if we discover that our children need help? It can seem a daunting task, but we hope we can shed light on this day set aside to reflect on mental health and share resources to help our children and families when they need it most.
There are approximately 450,000 children currently living in Bexar County, and this number is expected to increase 20 percent by 2020. Nationally, one in five children is estimated to suffer from a mental, emotional, or behavioral (MEB) disorder; this translates to upwards of 90,000 children with MEB disorders in our county alone, only 20 percent of whom currently have access to mental health services¹.
As shocking as these numbers are, experts believe that the statistics are still under-reported². Children with MEB disorders are twice as likely to start using illicit drugs and alcohol. They constitute up to three-quarters of detainees in juvenile detention centers. Moreover, approximately half of them will not graduate from high school³. These statistics illustrate that children with MEB disorders are an underserved population that would greatly benefit from increased resources.
As pediatricians in the San Antonio area, many clinic visits are now centered around mental health and behavioral concerns, rather than sick visits for sore throats, coughs, or ankle injuries. Recognizing and discussing how children build relationships or respond to stress can be as important to their health as brushing their teeth and eating a healthy diet.
Below are resources available to assist with mental health – ranging from crisis hotlines, counseling resources, and more to assist in addressing mental health in our community.
- https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/- The substance abuse and mental health services administration, behavioral help treatment services center. It is an anonymous online tool that helps the user access location of mental health treatment facilities close by tailored to your needs.
- https://www.dshs.texas.gov/mhsa/mh-child-adolescent-services/: A guide to accessing mental health services in Texas
- BCFS / Services to At Risk Youth (STAR) – (210-283-5183) Free family counseling. Aims to reduce family conflict & prevent the problems of delinquent behaviors, runaway, truancy & child abuse by helping youths and their families learn to resolve crises & develop coping & parenting skills.
- https://www.ffcmh.org/ – Advocate! Advocate at the national level for the rights of children and youth with emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges and their families. The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health is a national family-run organization linking more than 120 chapters and state organizations focused on the issues of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs.
- Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) National line of defense in addressing suicide. It may take up to 10 minutes to reach a provider but this hotline features providers who can talk to the person in need.
- Bexar County Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) https://www.sanantonio.gov/Portals/0/Files/health/News/Reports/BRFSSReport2016_5-31-18.pdf?ver=2018-06-04-155732-877
For parents seeking help for their child, a good place to start is with your pediatrician. If you need to find a pediatrician in San Antonio click here.