A new national snapshot of the state of mental health across America is, frankly, a little discouraging, especially when it comes to young people.
One startling finding from the annual report produced by the nonprofit Mental Health America: “[S]ixty-four percent of youth with depression do not receive any treatment.”
In addition, the report found:
Even among those with severe depression, 63 percent do not receive any outpatient services. Only 22 percent of youth with severe depression receive any kind of consistent outpatient treatment (7-25+ visits in a year).
I asked one of our frequent contributors, child psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Beresin, executive director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, for his thoughts on the report.
Here, lightly edited, is his response:
First, I am not surprised. There are a number of issues not emphasized by this summary:
1. There is a huge shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists in the U.S. Currently there are about about 7,000.
So while many parents seek help, the access to care is severely limited. Primary care pediatricians are inadequately trained in psychiatry and this has been addressed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their graduate training requires only two months in developmental behavioral pediatrics and few have any significant training in psychiatry. They are desperate to make referrals and often are at a loss to find qualified clinicians. Some states such as Massachusetts and New York have statewide efforts to assist them through consultation and education in psychiatry, but this only scratches the surface. Continue reading