Youth Behavioral Studies and Services Must Improve Across Texas
The effects of COVID-19 on youth mental health have been dire. But the truth is that Texas behavioral health services were struggling long before the onset of the pandemic. Experts trace the mental health crisis back as far as 2005. But the COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the fragility of our healthcare system, including mental health. As mental health-related incidents rose, the problem became too overwhelming to ignore.
People began seeking new ways to contend with their mental health issues as more and more people grappled with higher levels of anxiety, depression, grief, and loneliness. The problem exists nationwide, but it is unbearable in Texas, which has seen a steady decline in mental healthcare practitioners beginning in the 1980s. But now more behavioral health practices are opening, including Geode Health in Frisco, which will be opening later this year.
Benefits of Good Mental Health Services
The importance of good mental health cannot be understated, and having the services in place to support individual and community-wide mental health is vital. Having adequate mental health services in place promotes physical and psychological well-being by highlighting the benefits of healthy habits while also working to prevent other environment-based problems.
For example, a neighborhood with suitable access to behavioral health services will likely have lower depression, substance abuse, or addiction rates. These services have a high success rate at treating the cause instead of simply masking the symptoms. There is a reason why behavioral counseling is the number one treatment for substance abuse, outperforming medication in assisting recovery.
Lack of Mental Health Services in Texas
Because there are not enough mental healthcare professionals and facilities, few can access the proper mental health care they need, even if they can afford it. According to Mental Health America, 67.1% out of 209,000 Texas students with depression did not receive treatment. They rank Texas mental health assistance services second to last (50 out of 51, including the District of Columbia) in the United States.
Texas also significantly lacks in providing services to deal with behavioral health issues. There are similarities between behavioral health and mental health issues. The critical difference is that behavioral health has to do with a child’s actions. Some of these behaviors can be aggressive either to themselves or others, leading to children being admitted to hospitals or detained in juvenile facilities.
Not all behavioral disorders are aggressive; many have to do with lifestyle choices or children looking to find things they can control when the rest of their life is chaotic. These include eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and taking unnecessary physical or financial risks.
The Road to Recovery
The current state of affairs in Texas is unsustainable. Police departments face continuing strain even as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, highlighting the desperate need for alternative services. Though police-led crisis intervention teams often fight to give those suffering from mental illnesses the support they need, it simply isn’t enough. Texas needs behavioral health services that are accessible to all.
As restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic have eased and life for young people returns to normal, the heightened levels of mental health struggles are returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, these levels were and still are unacceptable. If the past couple of years has taught us anything, it is the importance of access to mental health and behavioral health care facilities.
New Behavioral Health Practices
Texas has seen a decline in the availability of mental healthcare facilities and professionals. Now more behavioral health practices are becoming available, including Geode Health in Frisco, opening later this year. Geode Health offers various experts giving patients the tailored type of care they need. With the addition of this new facility, Frisco’s mental health services should steadily improve.
Offering mental health facilities for youth that focus on behavior management services instead of handing out prescription pills to mask symptoms is beneficial to the community. It creates an environment that allows young people to thrive and puts less strain on social services.
It’s time for Texas to step out of crisis mode and take actions that prioritize the mental health of individuals and the community at large. By taking proper care of the young people in society, Texas could see an incredible reduction in mental health crises. The days of youth populations struggling alone in stigma-induced silence are over.
As the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic draws to an end, we must face dealing with the problems revealed in all areas of our health care system head-on. New healthcare facilities are opening to start the journey toward change, but the path won’t be easy. By working together and putting mental health first, the future for the next generation of young Texans could be brighter than ever before.