JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – This year’s KIDS COUNT data book shows Mississippi is improving in most areas measured for child well-being. However, the state still ranks 48th in the country. The report focuses on how various factors affect children’s mental health.
The report shows that nationwide, another pandemic is at stake, and it involves the mental health of children. It doesn’t show Mississippi as one of the states that saw an increase in childhood depression and anxiety between 2016 and 2020, but Linda Southward of the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi makes the point.
“The prevalence of anxiety and depression is based on parent diagnostic reports from the National Child Health Survey,” noted Linda Southward, executive director of the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi. “In a state like ours, access to care and particularly to mental health services is limited. Many children who might be diagnosed with these conditions may not be.
However, the statistics in this report stop at 2020. Health professionals have confirmed to us in recent weeks that they have seen rates increase since then.
“I feel like mental health issues have taken over. I would say at least 50% of what we see now even if it coexists with a checkup or some other type of visit,” said TrustCare Kids pediatrician Dr. Catherine Phillippi.
“Since the pandemic has happened, I believe in my opinion, again, this is just the beginning of what we will see in terms of the number of children who will need intervention,” said added Richard McMullan, Director of Children’s Services for Region 8. .
Mississippi has issues that appear in the report regarding the family’s ability to cover housing costs, keep jobs, or even access child care and early education. All of these things have a domino effect on children’s overall well-being, including mental health.
“We really need to figure out the best ways to strengthen data sharing between agencies to identify more children at an early age who are likely to be eligible for services and provide the services needed,” Southward added. “I believe there are services available that parents and communities may not be aware of.”
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