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Springfield, OH: Local counties "struggling" to address mental health issues in children

June 16, 2019, Springfield (OH) News-Sun: Clark, Champaign face growing demand for youth mental health services Clark and Champaign county are struggling to keep up as the number of children and young adults coping with mental health issues continues to rise. Alicia Robinson, a therapist with the Behavioral Health and Counseling Services Department of the Rocking Horse Community Health Center, said the number of referrals the department has received about children and young adults needing help with mental health issues has steadily increased over the last five years. “Back in 2010, we had received 9,676 referrals for help. So far in 2019, and we are about halfway, we already have 9,339 referrals,” Robinson said. “So that’s almost double what we were seeing 10 years ago.”... Greta Mayer, CEO of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison County, said she knows the demand for mental health services is high, but there is also a shortage of mental health professionals. “We simply don’t have enough psychiatrists or clinicians to keep up with the rising need for services,” Mayer said…. Mayer said the agency has moved to using a cross-system approach by partnering with the juvenile courts, developmental disabilities, law enforcement and educational representatives to find cross-system solutions when appropriate. Between 2010 and 2019, Clark and Champaign counties have seen 10 children and teens under the age of 18 die by suicide- six in Clark County and four in Champaign County- two of whom were just 11 years old, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health…. The new professionals would have been tasked with serving the nine public schools in Logan and Champaign counties. … Tammy Nicholl, executive director of the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties, said she was shocked and sad to find out about the failure. “The decline in students self esteem, purpose and positive view of the future, the suicide rates, youth crisis evaluations having doubled in the past few years, younger students needing psychiatric hospitalization- The data isn’t from some big city far away, this is us,” Nicholl said. Nicholl said the board had seen youth crisis assessments double over the last three years, as well as receiving a greater number of students suggesting depressed or suicidal thoughts. “We need more resources to effectively address the needs,” Nicholl said…. Dayton Children’s has seen a 200% increase over five years in the number of kids coming to the emergency room for mental health-related issues and a 300% percent increase in the number of children being admitted for mental health problems, according to Greg Ramey, pediatric psychologist and executive director for the Center for Pediatric Mental Health Resources at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Ramey said incidents of anxiety and depression disorders among children and young adults have increased nationwide, and while studies and research are still in their early phases, researchers have begun to find correlations between increased anxiety and depression in teens and the rise of social media and smart phones…. Clark County’s Mayer said studies indicate that social media only exacerbates existing issues, it doesn’t create them…. One of the reasons Robinson thinks the referrals to her department have picked up so much is because mental health issues are becoming less stigmatized. … In response to the jump in mental health issues, Springfield High School will welcome a, “Hope Squad,” in the fall through the Grant Us Hope nonprofit, with the goal of providing suicide prevention programs and supplemental trauma recovery programs. … Grant Us Hope encourages teens, parents, schools and communities to de-stigmatize mental health issues through open conversations about mental health. By fall, Grant Us Hope will have enacted Hope Squads in 55 Ohio schools, mostly in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus…. Rocking Horse’s Robinson said there could be any reason for the spike in mental health issues, it’s hard to pin-point everything in relation to everyone’s trauma. “There are different kinds of trauma that could cause a child or a teenager to be depressed,” Robinson said. “There are so many different explanations. You can’t just point to one thing.”…


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