MACON, Ga. (AP) — There is a rising number of children and adolescents who are diagnosed with mental health disorders, but some Georgia parents are finding that mental health care is difficult to find.
Georgia faces a severe shortage of mental health care providers, with only eight youth and adolescent psychiatrists for every 100,000 residents, The Telegraph reported . The figures come from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Schools across Georgia also face a shortage of counselors and psychologists, the Macon newspaper reported.
Voices for Georgia's Children, whose mission is to improve the lives of children, calls the shortage a crisis. About four in five children in need of behavioral health services don't get them, according to the advocacy group.
"You have to dig to find what you need," said Jennifer Giegler, a school teacher who lives in Macon with her husband and five adopted children.
Four of Giegler's children have a diagnosed mental health disorder, the Telegraph reported. They have a range of mental health conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and reactive attachment disorder.
Finding help for a child with mental illness is like walking along a slice of Swiss cheese, Giegler told the Macon newspaper. Some days are fine, she said, but then you find yourself in a big hole. It can be hard to find a way out, she told The Telegraph.
"There's not a lot of education for foster parents for children with mental illness," she said. "There's not a lot of education for parents, period."
Kim Jones said she couldn't believe how difficult it was to find resources for her child, who was diagnosed with depressive disorder. One obstacle after the next seemed to block her path to finding treatment, she said.
"People were giving us bad advice, saying we just needed to be better parents instead of recognizing that maybe my child was dealing with something that was a medical issue versus a parenting issue," she said.
After 2½ months of phone calls, Jones finally found a psychiatrist with an open slot who accepted her son's insurance. With prescriptions for an antidepressant and an antipsychotic, his condition began to improve, she said.
Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com