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State leaders work to improve mental health services for children
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Photo illustration by Scott Rogers, The Times

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%

Anxiety: 3%

Depression: 2.1%

Autism: 1.1%

Source: CDC

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.  

5 recommendations 

Presented to Gov. Nathan Deal by the Commission on Children’s Mental Health: