What to ask your politician regarding youth mental health?

While these do pertain to Virginia, many of the questions are also relevant to ask in your state since suicide rates have risen overall for youth in America.

The following election toolkit is an excerpt from Voices for Virginia’s Children on what questions you need to ask political candidates during this elections season. Virginia ranks 49 in treatment access for youth suffering from major depression which means 7out of 10 kids are not getting the help they need. Our family lived this statistic and we were a middle class family. (access the entire pdf here).

The question for your political candidate is italicized in bold.

MEDICAID IMPROVEMENTS: Virginia’s Medicaid-covered mental health services reflect a crisis-oriented approach with an over reliance on intensive treatment services and less focus on prevention. Efforts are underway to transform the behavioral health system to ensure consistency, comprehensive care, and more effective services for children and adults. What do you think about the current behavioral
health system transformation efforts and would you support the continuation if elected?

EARLY CHILDHOOD: Significant mental health problems can and do occur in young children. In fact, nearly 4,000 children 0-3 with public health insurance in Virginia had a mental health diagnosis in 2017. What steps should Virginia take to improve access to early childhood mental health services for Virginia’s youngest children and their families?

SCHOOL-BASED SERVICES: During the 2016-17 school year, 50% of school threat assessments conducted were related to self-harm. Research tells us that children and adolescents with access to mental health services in school are ten times more likely to seek care. School-based health centers can be useful settings to collaboratively address students’ physical and mental health needs. What steps, if any, should Virginia take to develop a robust array of school-based behavioral health services?

YOUTH SUICIDE: Nationally and locally, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 24. In Virginia, rates of suicide in this same age group have increased over 66% since 2010. However, these rates are not consistent across racial and ethnic groups. Rates of suicide for African American children have increased by 115% compared to White children, who experienced a still startling 51% increase of youth suicides. What steps should Virginia take to address this growing public health crisis of youth suicide for all children?

WORKFORCE: In Virginia, there is a critical shortage of licensed mental health professionals available to treat children and adolescents in need of care. Workforce shortages are exacerbated by high turnover, an aging workforce, and low reimbursement rates. What policy solutions would you propose to resolve this critical shortage of mental health providers in Virginia?

EQUITY + MENTAL HEALTH: Nationwide, one in five youth live with a mental health condition, yet the majority of youth who need care do not receive it. Barriers to access include lack of or limited health insurance, social stigma, and under-identification. Research shows that children of color, in particular, are less likely to receive needed mental health care. Even when they do receive care, there is great variation in the quality of care they receive compared to their peers. What policy solutions would you propose to address race disparities in mental health care?

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

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