Nevada gets a D for children’s mental health report / Public News Service

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada got a D-plus for children’s mental health, according to a new report from the Children’s Advocacy Alliance.

Researchers rated the Silver State on a range of mental health indicators, including depression, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, suicide, and access to care.

Dr. Tara Raines, director of the Kids Count Initiative at the Children’s Advocacy Alliance in Nevada, said the biggest problem is access: The state faces a huge shortage of pediatric mental health care providers, especially within the juvenile justice system.

“We need more psychologists,” Raines explained. “We need more treatment centers for children with severe mental disorders. We need more psychiatric social workers. We need more child psychiatrists.”

The report gave Nevada an F-plus grade for the percentage of children receiving mental and behavioral care, noting that in several counties, families have almost nowhere to turn when a child develops a mental illness.

A 2020 report from Mental Health America ranked Nevada worst in the nation for prevalence of mental illness and poor access to care. He revealed that 71% of young people in Nevada who experienced major depressive episodes never received treatment.

The bottom line, she said: Nevada needs to aggressively recruit more vendors, as soon as possible. Raines would like the state to fund more slots in nationally accredited children’s mental health training programs, especially in southern Nevada.

“We know people tend to stay where they get their license,” Raines observed. “If we can recruit interns to come here for internships or for post-doctoral fellowships, the likelihood that they will then stay to get a license in the state of Nevada is incredibly high.”

The report’s authors also call on the state to require mental health screenings for all children and re-examine school discipline to focus more on prevention.

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