Indiana School Counselor Needs More Mental Health Professionals / Public News Service

INDIANAPOLIS — More women and young people have faced behavioral health issues since before the pandemic, according to a new report. Nationally, teen suicides have jumped 26% since 2014, according to the United Health Foundation study, and anxiety in children also increased.

Dr. Jen Money-Brady, a Indiana School Counselors Association board member, said many counties in Hoosier State do not have enough mental health services for adults or children. In schools, she added, counselors do their best, but often have so many students they have to make referrals, and wait times can range from six to 18 months.

“It’s really, really difficult,” she said, “when you think of a student who really needs help and can get help from their school counselor in small pieces, but who doesn’t. can’t get the long-term support it needs.”

The study compiled more than 100 measures of health, from determinants of physical health to determinants of emotional, social and behavioral health. It revealed that around one in five children get the minimum recommended physical activity of at least 60 minutes a day.

The report also noted that fewer children are receiving developmental screenings and wellness visits. Indiana ranks 45th among states in developmental screenings and 33rd in wellness visits.

Dr Ravi Johar, Chief Medical Officer at UnitedHealthcare, said a national shortage of doctors is contributing to fewer children in waiting rooms.

“We know there’s reduced access to pediatricians and women’s health professionals,” he said, “so maybe telehealth can help with some of those things.”

Access to health insurance can also be a barrier to care; more than 7% of Indiana children are uninsured and nearly 12% of women.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our health issue reporting fund. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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