Inside the mind of a reporter: Mental health issues continue to rise while the treatment options decrease

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Specialists say the state of this fast paced, always connected world has left our children more stressed out and anxious then ever before.

Mental health issues, suicidal thoughts or actions and self harm are all on the rise. At the same time, it is getting harder to get children the help they need when they are in crisis.

In Southwestern Idaho we have one acute crisis unit that will take children between the ages of 12 and 17 and there is usually a long waiting list to get in. Parents are left with the option of taking children to the emergency room and hoping they will be put on hold until a bed comes open or a social worker gets them admitted to a facility in Eastern or Northern Idaho.

This leaves parents hoping they will be there long enough-that insurance will cover it long enough-to make the hundreds of miles trips worth it.

Then there is the issue of long term residential treatment and insurance coverage. There are long term facilities in Idaho, however, if your child is on Medicaid you are out of luck. Medicaid won't cover a single facility in Idaho. Parents are told to try Utah or Texas.

Why will Idaho Medicaid work with a treatment center out of state, but not any here?

This is already a traumatic time for the child and the rest of the family alike, and sending your child hundreds of miles away or even to another state just adds to the stress.

This trend isn't just a Medicaid issue. There are other government and private insurances who will not cover long term residential care.

This void is causing guardians to make the painful decision to send children far away or go deeply into debt to get a child the help the whole family desperately needs.

This isn't just a problem that affects the family and friends of a troubled child. This affects our communities as a whole. Children who are not receiving the proper care they need are very likely going to be showing risky behaviors in all aspects of their lives.

It ties up school resources as principals, counselors, teachers, school resource officers and other staff have to spend much of their time dealing with an at risk youth instead of the student body as a whole.

Children in their teenage years are often also pulled into the legal system and are part of taxpayer funded programs such as community service or serve time in county funded juvenile detention centers.

No parent should have to hear: sorry insurance won't cover the help your child needs and your best bet is for them to get enough charges that the court system steps in.

With insurance reform and Medicaid cuts a daily topic in the news, it leaves one wondering what help there will be in the future and what can be done to change it.

If you or someone you know is going through this process it is important to remember that you are your child's most important advocate.

No one is going to work harder then you to get your child the help they need. Do your research, write those endless e-mails and make those countless follow up calls.

Your child is worth it, your family is worth it.

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