Over 17 years ago I co-chaired National Tribal Standards for child care for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and had the pleasure of meeting the forward thinking Donna Shalala, the Secretary of the US Dept Health and Human Services. As she was looking into the physical health of American Indian children, she was most concerned about the mental health of all children, millions of them, needing care!
The difficulty was the lack of psychiatrists caring for children, and the lack of training of primary care physicians to take up the battle. The reimbursement is low and the time it takes for an office visit is not good. The AAP estimates over 15 million kids required the need for psychiatry, of which there are less than 8,500 available. NC, where I live, has 27 counties without a psychiatrist, much less ones that can or will care for children and adolescents. In Raleigh, NC, this spring of 2016 there were over 100 individuals waiting in ER’s or holding chairs waiting for a mental health bed!
This is not the “crazy” folks we think of in the past movies, or the guy on the street talking to the lamp post, but people in our neighborhoods, our friends, and our families. ADHD is felt to be in over 40% of children, and over 40% of those have issues when reaching adulthood. Over 70% of ADHD kids have some form of mental health or learning disability! If you have ADHD and not treated or treated properly, grades and learning suffer. A drop out from high school stands an 85% chance of being arrested, and certainly job opportunities and advancement are poor.
In 2014 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services reported that over 2.7 million children had a major depressive episode, and the head of Child Psychiatry at Cornell stated that 1 in 5 children have a mental health issue in the US! This week the news reported that suicide in the US is at a 30 year high, and anxiety in children is truly out of sight!
The Boston Globe is reporting the shortage of psychiatrists in the face of rising student issues. The mass killings recently prove the US is in a state of hurt like never before, yet we as a society are not dealing with the issues before us. Telepsychiatry is coming in many areas, but that does not come close to the face to face care that is needed and the information a health provider can get from personal contact.
FastBraiin is beginning a program of training. Training the pediatricians and family practice physicians, the pediatric nurse practitioners, educators, counselors and now the parents. We are all in this together, and together we will win the battle. We do it because we have to do it. We will win the battle because we have no choice. And I submit, neither do you!