Mental health professionals say that with children, early intervention is crucial to avoid more severe and costly problems later on. Yet even parents with good insurance struggle to find care for their children.
The US faces a growing shortage of mental health professionals trained to work with young people — at a time when depression and anxiety are on the rise. Suicide was the No. 2 cause of death for children and young adults from age 10 to 24 in 2017, after accidents.
There is only one practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist in the US for about every 1,800 children who need one, according to data from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Not only is it hard to get appointments with psychiatrists and therapists, but the ones who are available often don’t accept insurance.
“This country currently lacks the capacity to provide the mental health support that young people need,” says Dr. Steven Adelsheim, director of the Stanford University psychiatry department’s Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution because people’s financial and personal situations vary widely. For many parents, the most productive thing is meeting others who are experiencing similar problems.