New numbers out of one county in New York support the much widely recognized need for mental health services for young people across the country and the state.
“We must listen to parents,” Sara Taylor of BIPOC PEEEEEEK said. “We must listen to youth.”
Taylor is one of the parents and advocates speaking out as The Children’s Agenda released the results of its poll of 600 parents in Rochester and Monroe County.
The findings led the agency to call for a significant overhaul of public policy to help children coping with emotional and mental health issues.
“We need both private and public stakeholders to come together and listen to parents [and those of us with lived experience,” Taylor said.
Among the findings, two out of five parents surveyed say at least one of their children has struggled with emotional or mental health since going back to school.
But only one in four say their child struggling with the problem is receiving counseling for it.
“Those are numbers that a year ago were at the level convincing the U.S. surgeon general and the American Academy of Pediatrics and others to declare a national emergency of youth mental health crisis,” The Children’s Agenda CEO Larry Marx said. “We’re seeing those numbers now just today showing up in our community as well.”
Nearly 90% of the parents surveyed expressed facing barriers when trying get mental health services for their child. That includes oftentimes facing extreme wait times for help.
“There’s families that actually have to deal with the impact of, they have to wait, so within that nine or 10 months were dealing with crises,” Tianna Johnson said. “We’re dealing with things that are just not being supported and it can leave scars on families that not everyone is able to bounce back from.”
“Many of us get referred to services and we get a piece of paper with 10 resources on it, nine of them we don’t qualify for and that 10th one has a waiting list,” Taylor said.
The organization says calls for expanding youth emotional and mental health services through systemic changes supported by governmental and private investments, supporting a network of community members with the skills to identify when kids are struggling, support them and connect them to services,
And ensuring the community is one where children can thrive that includes living and going to school in a safe environment.
“The facts are that we have a crisis of youth mental health needs in our community,” Marx said.
“This is urgency,” Taylor said. “We cannot afford another day, another minute, another second to lose another life.”
These findings will be used to advocate for local and state-level changes in public policy.