Opinion: What California Must Do for Kids’ Mental Health

Due to systemic inequities, children and teens of color are affected more often when it comes to mental health crises, with Latinos ages 10 through 19 representing nearly 40 percent of the total deaths by suicide among Californians in this age range in 2017.

The simple truth is that California does not have a sustainable, long-term plan to support children and teenager’s mental well-being. We cannot continue to cobble together a broken system that perpetuates inequity. Here are some recommendations.

My Grandparents’ Redlining Story Shows Why We Must Do Better

I share this part of my grandfather’s story to illustrate the real and lasting impacts of institutional racism: The same policies that cultivated wealth for White people in the United States prohibited the accumulation of wealth for Black people.

Today, as we face the impact of COVID-19 and the racial inequities it is revealing, our leaders have an opportunity to do better. Now is an opportune time to create equitable policies.

Opinion: During a Pandemic, We Can’t Lose This Avenue to Health Equity

How can anyone think about taking away health coverage and critical consumer protections at all, let alone during a pandemic?

California fully embraced the Affordable Care Act, which allowed it to expand Medicaid and create Covered California, our state’s health insurance marketplace. As a result, our uninsured rate fell a whopping 53 percent between 2010 and 2015. Over the last 10 years, we have made tremendous gains in California and across the country. Now is not the time to go backward.

Can Movement Serve as an Antidote to Health Disparities?

While physical education might seem a low-level concern during the pandemic, health experts worry that the loss of access to exercise at school could widen health disparities among students.

Health disparities often stem from a lack of access to nutritious food, outdoor space and health care, among other resources. As a result of these societal inequities, low-income communities and communities of color often see higher rates of health issues, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes. COVID-19 has shown how disparities can contribute to health outcomes.

How Families Are Fighting Racism and Disability Discrimination

Many parents of children with special needs — regardless of race — struggle to receive prompt diagnoses and services. But for families of color, the challenge is more acute.

“There’s just a lot of systemic racism,” said Kausha King, director of the Community Empowerment Project, a program that provides navigation support and training to Black families of children with special needs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Analysis: Is the Pandemic an Adverse Childhood Experience?

When I started my pediatric training, I expected to see kids with “typical” complaints, such as asthma attacks, ear infections, lacerations or maybe a COVID-19 case. Instead our emergency department was flooded with children and teens who suffered from anxiety, suicide attempts, and suspected physical or sexual abuse.

At least 10 times a day, the best care for my patients was for them to see a psychiatrist or a social worker.

For Medically Fragile Children, Pandemic-Induced Supply Shortages Continue

Suppliers and parents began reporting shortages — most notably of ventilator circuits — early in the pandemic. Now, they say the problem is ongoing and kids are paying the price.

Based on national estimates, it’s likely that California is home to about 35,000 children with medical complexities, although no one tracks state-specific data. These are children with chronic conditions that require significant medical attention and specialized equipment, such as ventilators.

Children Missing Out On Developmental Services Because Of Labyrinth System

To get services for their children, parents often must navigate a dizzying array of health care providers, special education entities and insurance programs, often with little support or guidance.

By the time these children receive treatment — which is often contingent upon getting a diagnosis — they may have missed out on a critical window of time during which interventions can be most effective.

Therapists Want to Provide Affordable Mental Health Care. Here’s What’s Stopping Them

Even driven therapists face major hurdles navigating the fractured U.S. health care system. The end result is that they have less time to actually provide mental health care, at a time when therapists are needed more than ever.

Statewide statistics, as well as reports from providers and patients, suggest that insurance companies create hurdles to mental health care. Clients still struggle to get equal access to therapy. Therapists still struggle to get equal pay.

Opinion: California, Here’s How to Protect Essential Workers

COVID-19 is exposing a hard truth about our communities: If the low-wage workers cannot obtain decent health care, everyone else is at risk.

That’s because many of the lowest-income Californians hold essential jobs in retail and other services where they regularly interact with the public. The UC Berkeley Labor Center estimates that up to half or more of California’s workers are considered essential. And California’s health care safety net that serves many of these workers will soon become more frayed.

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