DELAYS IN GETTING HELP FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN
Compiled by Alan Solomon, Ph.D.
One California study found that children identified as having emotional problems in kindergarten did not receive treatment until the end of second grade. Even then, more than half were wrongly diagnosed as learning disabled not in need of psychological services. On average, the children received proper services only at age 10.
This is five years lost for a child, about one-half of his life, during which time frustration grows, self-esteem is diminished, and more serious psychological and behavioral difficulties are likely to develop at school, within the family, and in the larger community. Parents are often uninformed about how to secure services from local schools and psychological/medical professionals. They often need help in how to advocate on their childŐs behalf. Mental health experts with training and experience in this area can be of essential help in securing services from the local school district, as well as connecting with needed services in the local community.
This study was cited in an U.S. News and World Report article on January 15, 2001.
Medical Privacy? Not Really...
Of the Fortune 500 companies, 84 inspect the medical records of their employees before making any job-related decisions. This includes promotions. This was found in a University of Illinois study. Consumer Reports, in its August, 2000 issue, notes that it is now possible to put together a fairly complete health record on almost anyone, simply by cross-referencing information from various open Internet sources.
While so many people eagerly make use of their insurance benefits, both of these items raise questions about how secure and private medical databases truly are. There seems to be a definite risk in taking advantage of the financial benefits of insurance programs. Some patients respond by keeping their psychotherapy completely private (within the limits of the law): They negotiate a fee with their therapist and pay out of pocket.
Dollars for Psychological Services are Shrinking
Of the more than $1 trillion dollars spent on health care in the U.S. in 1997, only 7.8% went to mental health, down from 8.8% a decade earlier. Expenditures are lower than 1987, even though psychological issues and substance abuse are five of the ten leading causes of disability. Although 28% of adults will experience a mental health illness during their lifetime, one in five will actually receive no treatment at all. Thus, managed care and other efforts to reduce outlays for psychological services have succeeded in an economic sense, but at a very high cost in human terms.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted this study. For more details, see http://www.samhsa.gov/.
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