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Sharing – Why mental health care deserts persist for U.S. children

Like most things, your zip code will determine whether you can get mental health treatment for your children:

Nationwide, 70 percent of counties had no child psychiatrists, and children were less likely to have access to professional mental health services if they lived in counties with lower income and education levels. Six states — Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, South Dakota and North Dakota — reported a decline in the number of child psychiatrists during the decade studied.


That disparity persists even though the profession has grown by 21 percent from 2007 to 2016, to a rate of nearly 10 child psychiatrists per 100,000 people. At the same time, fewer Americans are choosing to have children, suggesting that there should be an “overall improvement in potential access to care,” the study said. Add to that improved health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The thing is, nationwide, there have been improvements. But they aren’t evenly distributed. Instead of making mental healthcare available to all kids, rich and upper-middle class families in large urban areas get to choose from more than one option now.

The rest of the country? Too bad. Maybe you should try being upper-class and living in large cities, I guess.

That’s not a mental healthcare system, that’s a way to leave behind thousands of kids who need help, and have them become adults who still don’t get any help.

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