Children said to lack adequate access to mental healthcare

Writing in the New York Times (2/19) Domestic Disturbances blog, Judith Warner observed that the majority of the adolescents “between the ages of 13 and 17,” who were dropped off last year under “the Nebraska law meant to keep desperate new mothers from abandoning their babies,” had “serious mental-health issues. Some were handed over to the state by relatives who had no other way of securing for them the heavy-duty psychiatric care they needed.” Warner pointed out that the “lack of access to…truly good care is the real mental-health ‘epidemic’ affecting children in our time.” According to psychiatrist Christopher Bellonci, M.D., “the result of all this fractured, fragmented, chaotic, or non-existent care…is that children with psychiatric problems get steadily worse, and eventually ‘fail up’ through repeated trials of medication and short-term hospitalizations until they can no longer be kept at home.” Therefore, “parents who have not been abusive or neglectful are put in the untenable situation of having to surrender custody,” Dr. Bellonci said.

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