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Yes, Congress can have a major impact on improving mental health for children and teens

Issues with anxiety, depression, suicide and other emotional problems have increased over the last ten years. Dr. Bob Lorinser, candidate for US Congress, says there's a distinct role for the federal government in prevention and treatment.

It started long before COVID, and the increase in mental illness since the pandemic hasn't been as dramatic as the public thinks. Nonetheless, it's overdue to integrate mental healthcare into primary care and make services affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Experts often debate the reasons for the gradual but observable rise in teenage/youth mental health issues, but they’re all seemingly centered on societal issues and social changes.

Risk factors include:

  • Family stress, such as persistent poverty, conflict, and other harmful environmental issues

  • Young children who experience recurrent abuse or chronic neglect

  • Domestic violence

  • Parental mental health or substance abuse problems

  • Bullying

  • Mass media

  • Increased stress, fear, and anxiety

  • Loss of school, sport, church, community routine.

For primary prevention (preventing depression, anxiety, and suicide), we need to identify the root causes.

For secondary prevention (reducing the harm caused by the illness), we need screening and treatment and removing risk factors.

The website "Mental Health America" has a list of policy initiatives and legislation widely supported among mental health professionals, Effective and efficient government solutions can allocate resources to providers to ensure a healthier future.

Dr. Bob supports focusing on the following:

Top Congressional priorities should include:

Access to Mental Healthcare and Support

Access to mental health care should be easy and affordable. Dr. Bob supports Medicaid expansion and other proposals to expand coverage and fight efforts to restrict access to coverage and treatments, including telehealth and digital options.

Prevention and Early Intervention for Children, Youth and Young Adults is critical to preventing and treating youth long before reaching the critical points in the disease process.

Suicide Prevention and Access to Crisis Care

Additional funding for crisis and diversion services, including peer support and respite services.

Further research into the “Why?” For example, why are emotional illnesses increasing? What are the causes?

Currently, primary and secondary prevention efforts are lacking. Our future is bleak if our nation can't protect, guide, and care for our youth.

Community leaders need to lead in prevention efforts. Public attention increases with tragic events such as suicide and mass shootings in the schools. We need to understand and address the root causes and what interventions are effective before these events..

We can't accept preventable suffering in children. We can't accept the status quo. Without healthy children, what will we become?

Death by suicide, according to the CDC, is the 4th leading cause of death in teens. These are issues worthy of our attention.

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Dr. Bob Lorinser, MD, MSW, MPH, is a candidate for US Congress supporting universal healthcare. He has advanced degrees in medicine, social work, and public health. Dr. Lorinser has worked with at-risk children and teenagers who have struggled with emotional disorders and mental illness for more than 30 years.


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