About 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 has a diagnosed mental health issue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Access to mental and behavioral health treatments, however, is a challenge for some families. Whether it’s cost or availability, providers have searched for years to find ways to break down these barriers.
Mental illness in children
Percentage of children ages 3-17 with a diagnosis
Attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder: 6.8%
Behavioral or conduct problems: 3.5%
In Hall County, there are between three to seven psychologists and three to seven social workers per 10,000 children, which is average, according to the substance abuse and mental health services administration.
But there are just one to three psychiatrists, which is below average.
State lawmakers have begun to focus on improving access to services.
In December, the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, which was created by Gov. Nathan Deal in June, released a report with recommendations on how to improve mental health services for children in Georgia.
“At its outset, I charged the commission with assessing Georgia’s approach to evaluating children’s mental health and recommending appropriate steps we can take in the future,” Deal said in a statement. “These recommendations will provide guidance for our efforts to improve the continuum of care for children’s behavioral health services.”
The proposed 2019 budget includes $23 million to implement recommendations developed by the commission.
Presented to Gov. Nathan Deal by the Commission on Children’s Mental Health:
- Support early intervention and prevention of opioid abuse. Read about how opioid addiction has affected local families.
- Increase access to behavioral health services for students by sustaining and expanding the Georgia Apex Program. Read about this program in Hall schools.
- Improve access to behavioral health services by expanding telemedicine infrastructure. Read about the struggle to find services in rural areas.
- Fund Supported Employment/Supported Education programs for those with severe mental illness. Read about a local program providing these services.
- Support suicide prevention, including expansion of Georgia Crisis and Access Line hours. Read about services available in our area.