Letter: It’s time to speak up for youth mental health

Posted 10/11/22

September was Suicide Prevention Month, and now more than ever, it’s time to raise awareness and work together to address the youth mental health crisis in our country.

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Letter: It’s time to speak up for youth mental health

Posted

September was Suicide Prevention Month, and now more than ever, it’s time to raise awareness and work together to address the youth mental health crisis in our country. Suicide is an issue that deeply affects us here in Colorado, where suicide is a leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24. According to the 2021 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 13.8 percent of high school students in Jefferson County made a plan about how they would attempt suicide during the past twelve months. 

In my practice as a pediatrician, I see ever-increasing numbers of patients with mental health concerns. Too often, these patients present in times of crisis, contemplating or already having attempted suicide. For these kids, we have far too few intensive resources. Just as problematic is accessible care for patients who present prior to crisis points, but for whom ongoing  mental health care is prevented by insurance coverage. Improved access to such care might prevent a significant number of these patients from progressing into a more severe crisis.

Unfortunately, youth mental health needs are not unique to Colorado. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other major medical organizations announced a national state of emergency for child and youth mental health, calling on federal lawmakers to invest in the mental health needs of children, youth and families. Congress is currently considering a bipartisan bill, H.R. 7236, the Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act, which would provide funding to expand the pediatric mental health care workforce and enhance access to mental health services for kids. I urge Congressman Ed Perlmutter to cosponsor H.R. 7236 and speak up for youth mental health here in Jefferson County.

Shen Nagel, MD, Wheat Ridge

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