As the summer months come to a close, many young students prepare to head back to school. Although this time can be filled with excitement, the crisis in child & adolescent mental health services can not be ignored. This young population is growing up amidst a pandemic, gun violence, and active shooter drills on top of their typical stressors, anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide are far too common among young populations. Clarity Clinic offers leading psychiatry and therapy services with locations throughout Chicagoland and Illinois. Dr. Sudhakar Shenoy, MD, Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist of Clarity Clinic, is speaking up about this crisis.
"As we are still healing from the effects of the pandemic, the last two years have taken a toll on everyone's mental health," said Dr. Shenoy. "By the summer of 2020, I started feeling that there is a 'mental health pandemic' affecting our children. The acuity and severity of symptoms that these kids came with were increasing every day. Data from various sources across the country started reflecting a scary picture. In 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death amongst individuals aged 10-14, and third leading for ages 15-24. By October 2021, the country's leading experts declared a 'National Emergency in Child and Adolescent Mental Health."
According to the CDC, 26% of high school students experienced feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness in 2009; this grew to 37% in 2019, and 44% in 2021. Despite the growing numbers, the CDC reports that only 20% of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive care from a specialized mental health care provider.
This is a time for everyone to pay attention and get involved. It is critical for parents, guardians, and educators to know when clinical intervention is necessary. Young people experiencing clinical depression may exhibit signs and symptoms such as:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or anger
- Unexplained minor illnesses, aches or pains
- Persistent changes in eating habits
- Loss of interest in activities and/or socializing
- Use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Poor school performance
Many times, children's behavior or emotional concerns are the results of external factors, and through assessment and evaluation, clinicians work with the entire family unit to identify strengths to focus on, as well as teaching coping skills to reduce symptoms. Clarity Clinic specializes in a variety of methods to assess the individual needs of the child and identify treatment options that best fit them.
"Over the last couple of years, access to quality behavioral health services has become more important than ever," said Illinois state Representative La Shawn Ford. "The pandemic has both exacerbated and highlighted the healthcare inequities in our system, and the lack of access to behavioral health treatment is a prime example. As a former public-school teacher, I have seen how such inequities can set kids back for life. More must be done to heal our most vulnerable kids before they become troubled adults."
Parents or guardians should reach out to their child's school counselor and see what interventions or therapy sessions are available through the school. If parents or guardians notice a child or adolescent having a difficult time identifying if they have sadness or depression, it may be necessary to seek the help and support of trained medical staff. Additionally, people experiencing a mental health crisis can also reach out for help by calling or texting the numbers 9-8-8. The new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people experiencing a mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional.
"Children are the future of our country," said Dr. Shenoy. "We need to ACT NOW to help improve our kids' mental health crisis. The implementation of 988 is a great step in the right direction."
Parents or guardians that notice a child or adolescent experiencing a decrease in condition, side effects or increase in symptoms, especially suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation or hallucinations should report to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
About Clarity Clinic
Clarity Clinic offers leading psychiatry and therapy services with locations throughout Chicagoland, Illinois, and Northwest Indiana. Clarity Clinic is redefining mental health care through a leading network of mental health providers, who thoughtfully guide the whole person on their journey to find clarity and mental wellness by providing exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care.
In-person and online therapy and psychiatry appointments can be scheduled online. Visit Child and Adolescent Psychiatry & Therapy - Clarity Clinic (claritychi.com) for additional information.
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Original Source: Back to School: Clarity Clinic Psychiatrist Speaks Out On the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Crisis