School Psychologist: Insurance Plans Should Cover Mental Health Care for Our Children | Opinion


By Liz Matheis

As we prepare to send our children back to school, I’m glad most of our lives are going back to how they were before the pandemic. But I am very concerned about the other health emergency we are currently navigating – our mental health crisis.

The the numbers are mind blowing — More than 40% of New Jersey adults report symptoms of anxiety and depression. Our state’s youngest residents also feel it – 72,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 suffer from depression. I see him every day. As a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist, I hear how our children suffer. Anxiety levels are at an all time high.

We shouldn’t be surprised by what is happening. The pandemic has deprived our children of many important milestones like graduations, field trips, proms, and other important events that mark the fulfillment of a school year. Our children lost time together. Our children have lost their social skills, their laughter, their spontaneous conversations, their play dates, their dances, and the occasions where interactions occur naturally and growth is sparked. Our children have lost part of their childhood.

One of the best ways to help our children recover from past years is to provide them with a place where they can share those thoughts, fears, worries, and losses so they can begin to heal and rebuild. . This is why therapy is so important. And that is why access to mental health care should now be available and affordable to everyone who needs it. But unfortunately, this is not the case.

Impact Research and Expedition Strategies recently conducted an investigation among New Jersey voters on behalf of Consumers for quality care (CQC), which highlights how critical this situation is. An overwhelming 90% of New Jersey residents say it’s more important than ever for insurance companies to cover mental health care. The poll also showed that 58% agree that it is difficult to find mental health care providers covered by insurance. Nearly 40% think the biggest barrier preventing people from accessing mental health services is that not all of them are covered by insurance. We have to do better…in fact, we have to.

We have all seen the consequences of not dealing with mental health issues properly. Things like isolation, addiction, self-harm, and suicide can all be prevented if the underlying condition is treated. Mental health is just as important as physical health – yet many insurance plans would have you believe otherwise. The lack of providers and affordable treatment options leaves many parents scrambling to find the life-saving care their children need.

If we do nothing to help our children get the help they need, we will create a generation without resilience that will eventually become numb to crippling levels of anxiety, depression and a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

It’s time to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality mental health care.

Dr. Liz Matheis is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist and owner of New Jersey Psychological and Educational Counseling.

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