Author: Claudia Boyd-Barrett

Striving to Meet the Mental Health Needs of Children with Physical Health Conditions

Research shows children with chronic illnesses are at least twice as likely as healthy children to develop a mental health disorder. They’re at higher risk for neglect and abuse. Their caregivers and siblings are also at increased risk for mental distress.

Yet there are few mental health treatment programs that cater to the needs of these children and their families. The MEND program at Loma Linda University is an exception.

California Laws Don’t Prevent Minors from Marrying Adults

In California, a person under 18 can marry with the consent of one parent and a judge. The state is one of only nine in the nation that do not set a minimum age for marriage.

People married as children or teens are more likely to experience domestic violence, contract sexually transmitted infections, have early pregnancies, and end up divorced, research shows. Marriage under 18 also contradicts age of consent laws in many states.

The Pandemic Spurred a Domestic Violence Epidemic. It’s Not Over Yet.

Since the pandemic began, California organizations that serve domestic violence survivors report getting more requests for help than ever before and hearing more stories of extreme abuse.

Rather than diminish, this trend has persisted as society reopens and survivors feel better able to seek help because they’re no longer trapped at home or worried about getting the virus, advocates said.

Some Kids in Long-Term Care Facilities Didn’t See Parents for More Than a Year

Throughout the pandemic, medically fragile children in California’s pediatric long-term care facilities and their parents have endured drastic limits on their ability to see and interact with each other. Some locations barred parents and other caregivers from visiting their children in person for over a year, citing virus safety precautions.

Advocates and parents said they’re concerned that visitation policies at pediatric subacute units during the pandemic may have caused long-term harm to kids.

Taking a Stand: How Teens Are Working to End Relationship Violence

Hundreds of young people across California are sparking conversations in their schools and communities about what healthy relationships should look like and how to recognize abusive behaviors. The California Health Report spoke with six of these youths about their activism and the experiences that motivate them.

All the youths we interviewed saw an urgent need to help more young people recognize abusive behaviors in themselves and others.

A street in the Kern County community of El Adobe, California.

‘I’m Scared of Getting Sick From the Water’

Like more than 300 communities across California, the tiny town of El Adobe in Kern County lacks safe drinking water. Since 2008, the arsenic levels in one of its two wells have regularly exceeded the safety standards set by federal and state authorities, often by more than double.

A 2013 report recommended the community consolidate with the larger water system in nearby Lamont. Residents are still waiting for that to happen. Some are losing hope.

Mike Duncan, the founder of Native Dads Network, sits on a bench.

To Counter Domestic Violence, Some Native Americans Embrace Tradition

Mike Duncan is founder of Native Dads Network, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that runs workshops on healthy parenting and relationships. The workshops draw on traditional Indigenous teachings about the value of life, the role of parents and the sacredness of women.

The network is one of a growing number of programs across the state that seek to address high rates of domestic violence in many Tribal communities by using Native American people’s own traditions and history as a guide.

As Need for Mental Health Care Surges, A Funding Program Remains Underused

The need for mental health services has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing pressure on California’s already beset mental health care system.

Yet one source of funding that could potentially help counties meet the demand for mental health care remains underused more than a year after the California Health Report first drew attention to the issue. The funding benefits the mental health care program that serves a third of Californians.

Closeup of a young man holding the hand of an old woman with affection.

How California Can Fix Its Hospice System and Reduce Care Inequities

When done right, hospice care can provide immense comfort to terminally ill patients and their families. But fraud, malpractice, unchecked growth, and lack of effective oversight from the state and federal authorities threaten the wellbeing of California’s hospice patients.

Seniors from all walks of life fall victim to these fraudulent practices, but those with limited English proficiency are especially vulnerable.

Here are a few solutions.

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