“The increased demand for intensive mental health care that has accompanied the pandemic has worsened issues that have long plagued the system. In some hospitals, the number of children unable to immediately get a bed in the psychiatric unit rose. Others reduced the number of beds or closed psychiatric units altogether to reduce the spread of covid-19” (Medscape January 7, 2021)
Decades of the American punishment model and Prozac like drugs have forever damaged millions of abused and neglected children and the schools and communities where they live.
Instead of providing access to consistent and effective mental health resources that build coping and life skills, we have taken cheaper shortcuts that rely on medications that render children unable to get by in school, with their peers or to become functioning members of our communities.
The COVID pandemic threatens to make this trend much worse if we continue to avoid the hard conversations that could improve the lives of these children.
We have learned from soldiers and their often violent and destructive behaviors that have been triggered by traumas of war, that the same thing applies to children and the traumas suffered from awful things done to them in toxic homes. Trauma is trauma – it impacts the brain in a very real and physical way.
A soldier knows what life was like before trauma – children don’t.
What happens in the home is the “norm” to the child.
Unteaching sex, drug use or violence to a seven or ten year old is no small task and is
seldom successful without extensive help from a caring community.
Breaking the generational cycle of child abuse rarely happens without community help.
The good news is that mental health awareness and helpful services are evolving. These services solve many problems for children suffering the trauma of living in toxic homes during the COVID pandemic if we spread the word and advocate for change.
Today, millions of children are stuck in conditions of homelessness, juvenile justice, foster homes, poverty and fearful living conditions with life changing traumas that will impact their lives forever without our help.
Self-harming and suicide rates of LGBTQ kids are off the charts, 1/3 of State Ward children are forced onto psychotropic medications and over 60% of youth in juvenile justice have diagnosable mental health issues.
As a nation, we long ago replaced affordable mental health services with Prozac like drugs and a punishment model that expels misbehaving youth from school and fills County courts with soon to be lifetime felons.
The costs to our community and quality of life of not helping these children is enormous. America leads the industrialized world among industrialized nations in unhappy things like STD’s and teen births, juvenile crime & incarceration of teenagers and a growing educational gap that will make our nation less competitive on the world stage.
Medicine is changing – and it needs to.
Read about KARA’s pilot Portages program to provide 100 youth
Mental help services in our communities have been a very limited resource.
- This lack of resources and overuse of psychotropic medications on at risk youth have become a national issue and a problem for schools, public safety and the medical community.
Suicide and other self-harming behaviors due to youth being locked into stress filled toxic homes during COVID may be exponential as teachers and other mandated reporters are mostly unable to have direct access to children being abused or neglected in their homes.
The suicide rate for Minnesota youth has been higher than the United States average for a long time (suicide was the second leading cause of death for 10- to 24 year-olds in 2016).
Nationally, a growing number of communities don’t have enough beds for suicidal and other serious mental health problems and many rural hospitals are ending their mental health services – this was happening prior to COVID.
While reporting of child abuse, domestic violence and emergency room visits are down today, it is unlikely that the occurrences of these behaviors is diminished.
The average emergency room visit costs a hospital $2000.00
There are about 145 million such visits in our nation each year – add to that the cost of crime and damage to schools and communities (think public safety and insurance rates) are all measurable costs of policies that punish instead of heal.
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