Survey respondents cited lack of access to services and therapists as a significant barrier to children’s mental health care.
A survey recently revealed that only 50% of parents who attempted to obtain mental health services for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic were successful in doing so.
The survey, sponsored by pediatric teletherapy provider DotCom Therapy,1 was conducted in late September 2021 to gauge the impact of the pandemic on mental health among children, as well as the impact of the reentry to school in Fall 2021 following a year of lockdown and online learning. The survey gathered responses from 1109 parents and guardians in the United States who have at least 1 child under 18.2 The survey results highlighted the disjointed mental health care system and its impact on child mental health.
Respondents reported that lack of access and resources was the biggest barrier to obtaining mental health care for their children, with only 35% stating that they believe their school systems currently provide adequate mental health support and 78% stating that they believe educational and health care systems need to provide more and better mental health support for children. Additionally, 39% of respondents reported a shortage of therapists as a significant barrier to adequate mental health services; 38% cited a lack of resources to help them find the right therapist for their child; and 62% said they were unaware of the full extent of mental health services offered by their school systems.1 Further, one-third of parents said they did not attempt to access mental health services for their children, even when they were aware of their children’s mental health challenges, such as social and general anxiety and panic attacks.1
According to the survey, parents are receptive to pediatric therapy.1 “Parents want to help their children, but many are overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn as mental health resources have diminished across educational and health care institutions,” said Rachel Mack Robinson, MS, founder and president of DotCom Therapy, in a press release. “Fortunately, pediatric teletherapy provides an immediate and effective solution to the ongoing therapist crisis that benefits patients and families while providing much-needed support and resources to schools, hospitals, and clinics.”
These results are significant, as it is estimated that the full extent of the pandemic’s impact on youth is only just beginning to develop.3 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (ie, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], depression, anxiety, disruptive behavior disorder, or Tourette syndrome), but only 20% of these children are currently receiving care from a specialized mental health provider.4
“Today’s stressed youth—still reeling from the pandemic—could become the next Lost Generation if we don’t get them the mental health support they need,” Robinson said in a press release. “The pandemic placed our society in a state of collective trauma and deprived children of central development opportunities, which could do irreversible harm to their wellbeing. Many children returning to school this fall are experiencing lingering after-effects of isolation, and parents want to alleviate those issues, but cannot access the help they need.”
1. Business Wire. New independent survey reveals that only 50% of parents who tried to access mental health resources for a child during the pandemic were able to. News Release. Business Wire. November 16, 2021. Accessed December 2, 2021.
2. DotCom Therapy. Back-to-school 2021: the mental health and wellbeing on children in America research brief. DotCom Therapy. 2021. Accessed December 7, 2021.
3. Abenes M. Teens in America: how the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping the next generation. Psychiatric Times. November 12, 2021. Accessed December 8, 2021.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Improving access to children’s mental health care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021. Accessed December 8, 2021.