Source: News & Observer
Much like a recent school funding report, North Carolina has received another set of failing grades for absolute necessities. According to the 2023 Child Health Report Card, North Carolina is not adequately meeting the mental health needs of our state’s children.
The News & Observer reported that North Carolina received F grades in mental health, school-based health, housing and economic security, and birth outcomes in a report issued by NC Child and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. Pointing to rising rates of suicide and gun violence among young people, the groups say that action is needed.
“Our state is falling woefully short of our goals for children’s mental health and well-being,” Kathleen Colville, president and CEO of the N.C. Institute of Medicine, said in a statement. “As we continue our pandemic recovery, this report should be a call to action for consensus-building around policies and programs that promote the health and safety of all North Carolina kids.
The report card is issued every two years and mental health needs are becoming more and more apparent. Some of the alarming statistics discussed in the report include:
- 67 children ages 0-18 died by suicide in North Carolina in 2020
- One in five North Carolina high school students reported seriously considering attempting suicide in 2021, which increased from 16% in 2017
- One in ten North Carolina high school students reported making a suicide attempt
- LGBTQ+ students are more than three times more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers
- More than one in ten children ages 3-17 in North Carolina had a diagnosis of depression or anxiety in 2020, a 49% increase from 2016
The report also highlighted the role of gun violence in North Carolina children’s lives; child deaths in NC rose more than 40% from 2019 to 2021. This report also closely follows another recent report that showed that children in North Carolina are at a 51% higher risk of death by firearm than the national average.
Homicide and suicide are the only causes of child death that are increasing in NC and both are preventable. One of the report’s recommendations is to make it more difficult for children to gain access to lethal means of self-harm. Requiring safe storage of firearms and removing barriers to receiving mental health care including increasing the availability of mental health professionals in public schools, especially in rural areas where access to healthcare is often limited, would likely make a noticeable impact on these alarming numbers.