The Inaccessibility of Mental Health Help

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According to The Guardian, adolescents across the pond are having an extremely difficult time accessing facilities to help with the mental health treatment they need. The majority of children and adolescents with severe mental health issues in England have to travel more than 100 miles away from home to stay in these facilities due to bed shortages in the those closer to them.

Sending children far away from home has debilitating effects as well, adding onto to the troubles that they are already going through. By separating the child from the parent, particularly in a time of need, contact becomes increasingly more difficult. This makes it harder to receive familial support as well as family therapeutic work. The environment is also incredibly unfamiliar to them, as opposed to a facility nearby, making the adjustment process harder.

The situation doesn’t differ back here in the United States, however. In Macon, Georgia, there are 56 school counselors in a school district with 24,000 students, and each of the nine psychologists work individually with 2,500 students (the recommended ratios are 1 counselor to 250 and 1 psychologist to 1000). Not only does this affect the counselors and psychologists, stretching them thin, but having so many students to care for makes it harder for the students to get time to discuss what they’re going through, especially as the number of those with mental health issues grows.

Schools can be the most accessible option for adolescents to seek mental health help, but without being able to get the time to go in because of the lack of availability, they may feel like their issues are being neglected. The resources aren’t there, and therefore the school doesn’t see mental health as of an issue. Without that help, the effects begin to build up as well, particularly with school performance. In Macon’s case, this is also true outside of the school setting; school psychologists can refer students to outpatient providers if necessary, but their availability is nearly nonexistent as well. 

Both cases show that the number of children and adolescents who need assistance and help with their mental health is far greater than the availability. As the number of those who show symptoms of mental health issues increases, the number of those able to help has remained the same. Though the reasons for this can vary, like lack of budget or lack of recognition of mental health as a valid health issue, the fact still stands that there isn’t enough help available to those who need it.

Do you think that there should be more mental health facilities accessible for adolescents? How well do you think your school is with their mental health facilities?

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