MADISON, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The mental health crisis impacting U.S. children and teens has been a serious concern as students return to school, even as the pandemic begins to subside, according to a new independent survey of over 1,100 parents and guardians of children under the age of 18. The survey found that only half of U.S. children whose parents tried to access mental healthcare resources during the pandemic, were able to get the care they needed. At a time when anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders soar in an uncertain post-COVID environment, 39% of survey respondents stated that the biggest barrier to obtaining the right mental healthcare for their child has been a shortage of therapists while 38% cited lack of resources to find the right therapist. Only 35% of respondents believe their school systems provide adequate mental health support, as many are understaffed and lack adequate services for children and parents alike.
In fact, 78% of survey respondents believe that educational and healthcare systems should do more to provide better mental health services to children. This is underscored by their concerns for the future as 66% believe the COVID experience could have a lasting negative impact on their children’s well-being. If this mental health crisis is not addressed now, it could have catastrophic consequences for not only children and families but for society at large according to Rachel Mack Robinson, Founder and President of DotCom Therapy (DCT), the most comprehensive pediatric teletherapy provider, and a sponsor of the survey.
“Today’s stressed youth – still reeling from the pandemic – could become the next Lost Generation if we don’t get them the mental health support they need,” said Robinson. “The pandemic placed our society in a state of collective trauma and deprived children of central development opportunities, which could do irreversible harm to their wellbeing. Many children returning to school this Fall are experiencing lingering after-effects of isolation and parents want to alleviate those issues but cannot access the help they need.”
The Mental Toll on Children – and Parents
Returning to school has been taxing for children and parents alike according to survey respondents. For parents with children back in school, only 50% describe their children’s health and wellbeing as “well-adjusted” since the return to school. Going back to school was difficult because kids spent so much time out of the classroom last year. In fact, 60% of respondents estimated that their children spent more than half of last year being home-schooled or using distance learning while 23% stated that their kids were not in school at all last year.
The survey also found that parents need more support to handle the mental health challenges their children are facing. Many parents are unaware of the resources available to them through their school systems, with 62% admitting to not being fully aware of the scope of mental health services their child’s school currently provides. More than half of parents and guardians queried (56%) said they experienced their own mental health challenges during the pandemic. One third (33%) of parents who said they and their child experienced mental health challenges due to the pandemic did not try to access mental health care for their children. This is despite being aware the issues their children faced, with nearly half (48%) of respondents concerned about social anxiety, general anxiety and panic attacks impairing their kids.
Gaps in Access, And Parents’ Optimism For Addressing Them
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can be challenging for some families to access mental health care for their children, particularly if it is not readily available through their healthcare and school systems. Nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, such as anxiety or depression, attention-deficient/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive behavior disorder and Tourette syndrome. While children with these disorders benefit from early diagnosis and treatment, only 20% of them receive care from a specialized mental health provider, according to CDC data.
“Parents want to help their children, but many are overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn as mental health resources have diminished across educational and healthcare institutions,” said Robinson. “Fortunately, pediatric teletherapy provides an immediate and effective solution to the ongoing therapist crisis that benefits patients and families while providing much-needed support and resources to schools, hospitals and clinics.”
Most parents and guardians are receptive to pediatric therapy according to the survey. 60% of respondents said they would take advantage of a service that could match their child with the right therapist and facilitate teletherapy at home with 38% stating that they would only be interested in a school system or health plan covered the cost.
DotCom Therapy commissioned this independent survey in late September 2021 via Survey Monkey and received responses from 1,109 people who are parents or guardians of children under the age of 18. The full survey results can be found at https://www.dotcomtherapy.com/mental-health-impact-on-children.
About DotCom Therapy
DotCom Therapy is the most comprehensive pediatric teletherapy provider for healthcare and educational organizations serving families across the nation. With a 5-star patient rating and 97% retention among its network of professional therapists, DCT provides the flexibility families and organizations require to meet the mental health, behavioral, speech, and occupational therapy needs of children in their care. DCT is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin with team members and therapists located across the United States. For more information, follow DotCom Therapy on Twitter (@DotComTherapy) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/dotcom-therapy), or visit www.DotComTherapy.com.