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Mental Health Services for Children Lacking

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The National Center for Children in Poverty, based at Columbia University in New York, has released a report that shows that states are still struggling to deliver adequate care to children and youth with mental health problems.

The study
revisits a topic that was explored in another report, Unclaimed Children, more than 25 years ago. According to researchers, there have been improvements since that time, but only seven states report "consistent support for children and youth across the age span, among young children, school-age children and youth transitioning to adulthood."

However, in an article in USA Today about the report, mental health advocates suggest that even some of the states that say they're doing a good job may be providing too positive a spin on their efforts.

Judging by experiences of parents, the report "seems too rosy," says Darcy Gruttadaro, children's issues director at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "A lot of them have programs, but they often have long waiting lists too, so families just can't get good care for their kids."
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I think that the lack of mental health care for children is really just a subset of the larger problem of lack of mental health care. As my son moves from childhood into adulthood, I am becoming newly aware of how limited the options are--particularly for those of only moderate resources. The public mental health system includes some incredibly dedicated folks (as does the child mental health system), but nowhere near enough of them, and the facilities just sort of seem to scream out stigma. They are the last thread of support for people who are surviving on the street. We were fortunate to have access to a "transition" program, but even this owes its existence to the fact that someone realizes that becoming 18 does not automatically grant you adult judgment and capabilities. A kid whose primary issue is making it through school doesn't sense an immediate affinity with someone who has lost their job, their family and their home--even if they have the same diagnosis.

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