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Why it's so hard for kids in crisis to access the mental health care they need in Santa Clara County

Original post made on Sep 15, 2022

Peninsula teen Brian has battled depression and suicidal behavior since he was 10 years old. When he was in crisis, his family had to wait weeks just to get him an appointment with a psychiatrist. Their experience is all too common.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 15, 2022, 12:02 PM

Comments (4)

Posted by Kieran
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2022 at 4:26 pm

Kieran is a registered user.

Insane that Brian needed a $20,000 deposit for admittance of care, when it was still in his insurance network… Great read Malea! Keep it up!

Posted by CC
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 15, 2022 at 5:43 pm

CC is a registered user.

This is a very accurate article. Very similar to the issues and challenges we faced getting care for our child. Thank you to the Voice for highlighting this urgent issue. I'm glad that Joe Simitian took action to improve the situation for mentally ill kids in Santa Clara county, but I'm also sad that he found out about it randomly at a social event through a constituent. Perhaps he should be briefed regularly on the mental health resources available in nearby counties so he can ensure Santa Clara county is doing it's part to address the challenges as well.

Finally, I'll say that having a child experiencing mental illness is a very isolating and painful path for any parent to walk, so I'd encourage all readers to have empathy for families you might know in this situation.

Posted by Jon Keeling
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2022 at 11:11 pm

Jon Keeling is a registered user.

Very good article. Interesting that it begins by arguing that it’s hard for kids to get mental health support and then concludes with multiple options for free mental health resources available to everyone… ;-)

I spent significant time as a “Crisis Counselor” for one of those resources – CrisisTextLine. This free service is available 24x7 and I am proud to say I have saved lives while volunteering with them. Memorize the number: 741741.

A double-edged sword for mental health (where both edges are good!) is Social-Emotional Learning programs. The absolute best one is ChallengeDay. Los Altos High is having that program again later this month and hopefully other schools in the area will be as well. That program also saves lives. Why do I call it a “double-edged sword”? On one side, it creates empathy, compassion and community for students who attend the powerful and often life-changing program. On the other side, after the program there is often a flood of demand for mental health staff, as students show interest in communicating their feelings more. Both of these are of course good things. But it can definitely stress school mental health resources.

I think every high school should run ChallengeDay annually for a given grade (ideal is probably 9th grade). But it is also great for middle schools. For younger students, I recommend programs like “Start with Hello,” by SandyHookPromise.

Fortunately, kids these days are often much better equipped with the vocabulary and understanding to discuss their mental health struggles compared to their parents and grandparents. I was encouraged listening to a group of high school students at the “Teen Wellness Retreat” that I helped with last year & will be running a program at again this year (details to be announced soon).

And if you and/or your child would like to talk, please feel free to reach out to me. I have helped many people over the years & will continue to do so for many more. Talk is free, provided I have time.

Posted by lwey
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 16, 2022 at 9:00 am

lwey is a registered user.

This is a very informative article on an important topic. In the 1970's as a teenager with mental health issues there were no services or recognition of my struggles within my family or elsewhere. It affected my life for years until I finally received treatment in my 30's. The issues highlighted in this article about difficulty finding mental health professionals apply to adults as well as teens. Ten years ago I tried to find a therapist and no one in my insurance network was accepting patients. The one person out of network that I accessed cost $400 per hour. That is not reasonable for anyone regardless of financial means. The most effective help I received later on was at Kaiser in group therapy at a very low cost. I hope that in the future there will be a way to attract more counselors and psychiatrists for all age categories and more programs to provide badly needed mental health services.

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