The latest report card focuses on youth mental health

Content Warning: This article refers to suicide. Please be careful while reading. Please consult if you need mental health support This page For resources.

By Jennifer Fernandez

North Carolina children’s struggles with mental health issues have worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

And there are significant differences between student groups, with LGBTQ+ students particularly affected.

of Authors NC Child Health Report Card He urged action on several measures to address children’s mental health needs:

  • Remove barriers to accessing mental health services.
  • Improve the provision of mental health care and crisis intervention in public schools, particularly in rural areas where specialty care is not available.
  • Make it harder for children and youth to find deadly ways to harm themselves, including encouraging families to safely store guns and prescription drugs.
Christian Curry is the project director at the North Carolina Institute of Medicine.

“Even before the COVID-19 emergency and school closures, kids were in trouble. Christian Curryproject director with NC Institute of MedicineAs one example, the May 4 report card website pointed to the general increase in youth suicide over the past decade.

“That crisis is exacerbated by factors such as lack of health care, food insecurity or family planning. So it’s highly correlated with many of the indicators we’ve historically tracked in the Child Health Report Card.

Reporting on children’s health

The report card is put together every two years NC child and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, looks at 15 parameters of children’s health. Those measures range from housing and economic well-being, to educational opportunities, birth outcomes and mental health.

The 2023 report card shows that since the last time these statistics were compiled in 2021, the state has improved in two areas, scores have deteriorated in three others and remained the same in the rest.

For example, the state’s ranking on tobacco, alcohol and substance use has improved from an F to a D.

The Antenatal Care and Maternal Health and Support category, which tracks data such as how many women receive or are insured for antenatal care, has upgraded to a B level. Even so, birth outcomes are rated an F, with 6.9 of every 1,000 babies born in North Carolina dying in their first year. The preterm birth rate remains above 10 percent.

“We’re celebrating improved coverage, but that doesn’t always translate into availability of providers, consistency of care, all these other aspects,” he said. Luna HomciHealth Policy Analyst with NC Child, May 4 Webinar. There is still a long way to go, and the differences and birth results are proof of that.

Three areas were downgraded: Childbirth to C, Education to D and School Health to F.

According to the report, the results are subject to a panel of health experts to focus on how the state’s children are doing in “critical measures of health and well-being”.

North Carolina’s report card is coming in less than two months. National Youth Risk Behavior Survey as well It set off alarms. About adolescent mental health, particularly adolescent girls and LGBQ+ youth. (The survey did not include questions for transgender youth.)

Mental health

For each report card, NC Child selects a focus, an area of ​​concern that deserves attention.

In the year In 2019, the charity focused Youth suicide. Four years later, the organizations have shifted their focus to overall adolescent mental health.

As teen suicide and mental health diagnoses continue to rise, North Carolina schools are woefully understaffed to address these issues with young people, according to the organization’s leadership.

Although the school’s nurse-student ratio has improved slightly From 2018It is far from 750 students for one nurse Recommended as if Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It stands at 1,007 students for every nurse in the 2019-20 school year, according to the latest data from the Children’s Health Report Card.

of American School Counseling Association He advises. One school counselor for each 250 Students. with 316 Counselors per student, North Carolina has better than the national average of 408, but still falls short.

Erica Palmer Smith is the executive director of NC Child.

“Currently, we are not providing the mental health support we need for our students in our public schools.” NC Children’s Executive Director Erica Palmer Smith He said in an interview. “We don’t meet national standards.”

Mental health screenings for children are on the rise. According to NC Child, the number of children ages 3-17 receiving a diagnosis of depression or anxiety increased by 49 percent from 2016 to 2020.

In the report, NC Child stated that suicide was the leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14 in 2019. Next year, an “unprecedented 67 children” 10-18 years old Died by suicide in North Carolina.

In recent years, many of the state’s teenagers have reported serious suicidal thoughts. For high school students, suicidal ideation has increased from 16.2 percent in 2017 to 22.3 percent in 2021, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. One in 10 people report having attempted suicide.

The Youth Risk Behavior Study found that LGBQ+ students in North Carolina schools were three times more likely than their heterosexual peers to report that they were suicidal, suicidal, or seriously considering suicide.

“There are some things we just can’t accept,” Palmer Smith said. “Our children are taking their own lives because we’re not making sure they have the support they need. It’s not something we can accept.”

Death by firearm

In the year From 2011 to 2020, 525 North Carolina children 17 and younger died from firearm injuries.

“The increase in gun deaths coupled with evidence of how easily many high school students have access to a loaded gun is alarming,” said Kela Hatcher, executive director of the NC Child Killer Task Force. He previously told NC Health News.

In the year In 2021 alone, the number of children who died due to weapons was 121.

Credit: NC Child Health Report Card

The task force’s report shows that by 2021, more than seven in 10 percent of children will be killed by firearms. For older children – 15-17 years old – the number increased to 83 percent.

More than nine out of 10 murders of children over the age of 4 involve a gun.

Gun safety was at the forefront of the task force’s recommended action items from state legislatures released earlier this year.

The Legislature passed a resolution — creating a program to promote safe storage of firearms and distribute gun locks. As part of a larger scale He loosed his ability to acquire weapons. However, Senate Bill 41 did not include funding for the program. The Child Killer Task Force recommended a minimum of $250,000 in two-year funding.

Senate Bill 41, which became law in March after Republicans overrode Dr. Roy Cooper’s veto, also removed the gun permit requirement and loosened restrictions on certain carry.

So far, neither the Senate nor the House versions of the budget have earmarked money for safe gun storage. The two councils are merging their spending plans into the final provincial budget.

In an effort to address gun violence in the region, Cooper used his executive powers to create the North Carolina Office of Violence Prevention In March. The new office aims to support law enforcement and public health communities in violence reduction training efforts and organizational models for successful community-based programs.

Credit: NC Child Health Report Card

North Carolina’s fight against gun deaths among children mirrors a national trend.

While overall infant mortality has been declining in this country for decades, this trend began to reverse during the pandemic.

However, it wasn’t COVID-19 that was killing children at the time, said Steven Wolff, director emeritus and senior adviser to the organization. Community and Health Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.

On May 10 ApproachHe convicted four major driving offenders.

Guns will account for nearly half of the increase in teen deaths in 2020 and 2021, Wolff said during the National Institutes of Health Care Administration’s “State of Our Children’s Health” webinar.

But mass shootings at schools or other settings account for a small fraction of gun deaths among teenagers, Wolff said.

“Primarily, that’s because of the shootings that happen every day in communities across this country,” he said. “…many of these involve our young people, and in ever-increasing numbers this is making a difference in all mortality.

Using the data

Now that the information is out, advocates will use it in their discussions with lawmakers. County-level data will be released in the summer so local data can be shared with lawmakers before they return in the fall, she said.

Luna Homsi is a health policy analyst with NC Child.

Homsi said the report card can also be used by nonprofits, agencies and parents.

The data and results can serve as “an important jumping-off point for important work in our region,” she said.

Nonprofits can use the data to identify areas of focus. It can be a tool for parents to talk to friends and community members about what they love.

“If your community is debating whether or not to put in a new grocery store, you can use this information to show why kids need accessible, healthy food to grow,” she says. “…and if your school doesn’t have a counselor, you can use this to show why funding mental health providers is so important.

Kathy Colville is president and CEO of the NC Institute of Medicine.

NCIOM President and CEO Kathy Colville said in an interview that earlier efforts to bring about change led to the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“We can make policy changes that will make a difference in children’s lives,” she said, explaining that the effort to get insurance coverage for nearly 95 percent of children is viable.

“This is our responsibility as adults in North Carolina… to see these things [data] And understand them and take action,” she says.

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