A new national survey reveals that many adults believe children and teens do not received needed mental health services.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation commissioned the National Voices Project to facilitate a five-year study of how adults who work and volunteer every day on behalf of children perceive access to mental health services for kids and teens on a local community level.
“The adults in the National Voices Project survey work or volunteer on behalf of kids. These are the adults who are perhaps best positioned to refer children and teens to the health care services they need,” says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P.
Survey participants were asked how much availability there is in their communities for children and teens to receive health care services.
More than half of all respondents note that there is “lots of availability” for teens to have hospital care (55 percent) and primary care (56 percent) in their communities.
But across all health care services, only 30 percent of respondents reported “lots of availability” for mental health care. Health care availability for children was very similar.
“These findings indicate low availability of mental health care for children and teens in the majority of communities across the U.S.,” Davis said.
“Even in communities where there are lots of opportunities for children and teens to get primary care or hospital care, access to mental health care is lacking.”
In communities where respondents perceived racial/ethnic inequities, survey responders consistently reported less access to all health care services, including mental health — especially for teens.
Experts say that survey results show that where there are perceived inequities at the community level there are also perceptions of diminished opportunities for young children and teens in the domains of nutrition, health, and health care.