Report: Limited mental health services for children in RI

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s mental health care capacity remains limited for the vast majority of children and adolescents who need it, according to a report recently released by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.

The report says that one in five Rhode Island children between the ages of 6 and 17 have a diagnosable mental health disorder, and those who seek help “find it difficult to get adequate, timely, and affordable”.

“Inaccessibility is caused by barriers related to insurance, lack of clinicians and extremely long waiting lists,” the report continues. “These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. when some mental health programs temporarily closed.

The report also states that children of color are less likely to seek help, and when they do, “it is more likely to be inadequate due to the lack of a culturally diverse, and linguistically competent”.

The number of calls to the Kids’ Link RI hotline peaked last year, according to the report. Although they have decreased slightly since then, the report notes that the number of calls remains higher than before the start of the pandemic.

Rhode Island remains under a state of emergency for child and adolescent mental health, which is why Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is issuing a call to action.

“Our kids can’t wait,” said Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant. “Rhode Island must create and invest in a seamless and coordinated behavioral health care system for children and their families.”

“This system must align with and strengthen current systems, provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place, and support children as they grow and transition into adulthood,” he said. she continued.

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT listed a number of ways the state can make mental health services more accessible to children, including streamlining behavioral health care, addressing workforce challenges, and providing families with financial and community support.

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