Shouldn’t Schools Be Helping Kids Cope With Mental Health Issues?

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There’s a connection between the Congressional health care budget battles in the headlines and the stories we at PVI have been reviewing in the last few months…many of which are terribly sad: a young girl abused by her father and now struggling with substance abuse and cutting. A parent whose child erupts in violence, seemingly for no reason. These are some of the 100 stories of teen and adolescent mental health and substance abuse that informed PVI’s recently completed project with a client organization. We’ll be writing more about that soon. But here’s the connection: we don’t have nearly enough resources to help adults cope with mental health issues…let alone more vulnerable adolescents and teens. Yes, $45 billion to battle the Opioid crisis (proposed in the latest health care bill) would help, but the problem is oh-so-much larger than that. These kids and their parents are desperate for help with diagnosis and treatment. And they’re left largely on their own. Too many of these stories end in suicide. Others, in prison or life on the street. Compounding the problem, when the child turns 18, their parents can’t even legally be kept in the loop…unless the now-“adult” child (challenged to make good decisions in the first place) gives the green light.

In the world of solutions, wouldn’t it make sense for schools to our first line of discovering, understanding and even getting treatment referrals for the one kid in 5 in the U.S. who shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year? You might think so, but as an excellent series of reports by NPR points out, that just isn’t happening.  As you’ll read, schools are woefully under-prepared, under-funded and under-supported to help. Now that summer’s here, it’s a good time to delve into the role key players at school can have in addressing these problems – and whether as taxpayers you want to support them budget-wise in this battle. NPR’s THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS IN OUR SCHOOLS just may give you the insights, language or knowledge to help save someone you care about from a lifetime of pain and struggle.

Do you have a story of a teen or adolescent behavior health or substance abuse issue? PVI continues to gather stories to paint a comprehensive picture of the need for diagnosis and treatment. Would your story help others? Entries are open for PVI’s Hope Award, which carries a $1,000 prize at an award ceremony this December in Washington, DC. Details here.

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