Mental Health: Closing the Gap between Diagnosis and Treatment

According to a recent report from the Child Mind Institute, almost 50 percent of the country’s children have been or will be diagnosed with a mental illness, but less than eight percent will seek treatment for that illness. This conclusion is just one of many stated in the “Children’s Mental Health Report” published this past May.

The report cites a “lack of awareness and entrenched stigma” as obstacles that are keeping children from getting help. And it states that the longer children go without getting treated, the more serious their illness is and its symptoms are with age. When they do not receive help, children and young adults with mental illnesses are at higher risk of academic struggles, substance abuse and entering the juvenile justice system. Therefore, receiving treatment as soon as possible is imperative to helping children overcome their struggles and achieve more socially, emotionally, and academically.

Supply of Mental Health Professionals GraphOne of the four overarching themes in the report is the “gap between illness and care,” as many children do not have access to appropriate mental health services. In this figure from the report, it is clear that one of the leading factors of this gap is a nationwide shortage of qualified mental health professionals. The report goes on to state that the current ratio of school psychologists to students is 1:1,482 – an obviously unmanageable caseload.

However, there is a solution. If schools supplement these huge caseloads with remote online services that provide the same care as on-site school psychologists, more students can receive access to effective treatment.

PresenceLearning’s online behavioral and mental health services give schools experiencing local shortages access to highly qualified mental health professionals via telepractice. Instead of travel time to far-away school sites, telepractice allows districts to access remote school psychologists and social workers using internet access. Since online mental health professionals do not have to travel long districts, this helps free their time, which creates a better use of resources. PresenceLearning mental health professionals can provide:

  • Pre-Referral Interventions (Tier 2 and Tier 3 behavior interventions) – Daily (e.g. check-in/check-out, Time To Think, Steps for Success) or weekly (BIP) sessions and reporting to the student’s support team.
  • Social/Emotional/Behavior Evaluations and Assessments – Social/emotional/behavioral evaluations and assessments including those for mental illness, ADHD, executive functioning and behavioral disorders, as well as functional behavior assessments. Click here for more on assessments.
  • Direct services provided to student as prescribed on a BIP or an IEP – Support in meeting plan goals and tracking progress.

To read the Children’s Mental Health Report in its entirety, click here. To learn more about PresenceLearning’s online behavioral and mental health services click here.