'Huge' Gaps In Mental Health Care For Children, Experts Warn - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'Huge' Gaps In Mental Health Care For Children, Experts Warn

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - The U.S. mental health system has huge gaps that prevent many children with psychological problems from receiving effective treatment that could prevent tragic consequences later in life, experts told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday.

Just over a month after the shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, mental health experts said psychological disorders usually emerge before people enter high school but that only one-quarter of children with problems see trained professionals and often the care is not enough.

"We see the results of insufficient mental health care in school failure and suicide. How do we do better?" Michael Hogan, head of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, said in written testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

"While the gaps in children's mental health care are huge, there is also reason for hope," he added. "In part, this is because we know more about what works, and what doesn't."

Hogan, a former New York mental health commissioner, was scheduled to appear with two other experts Thursday at the Senate committee's first hearing on mental health issues since the presidency of Republican George W. Bush, who set up the commission Hogan now chairs.

The hearing was scheduled in response to the shootings at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School where Adam Lanza, a young man described as having mental issues, gunned down 26 people including 20 young children with an AR-15-type assault rifle on Dec. 14.

The tragedy and other mass shootings in recent years have ignited a debate about gun control and mental health, including a push by President Barack Obama for stronger gun controls and better mental health training for schools and communities.

Robert Vero, chief executive of a network of Tennessee clinics called Cornerstone, said mental health professionals who work with children also lack access to parents and other relatives whose problems may contribute to a child's troubles, sometimes due to inadequate insurance coverage.

"We need to be able to teach parenting skills if we want the child's behavior to change," said Vero. "We need to be able to address the parent's depression or addiction."

The experts credited Obama's healthcare reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with making a step forward by requiring insurers including Medicaid to provide coverage for mental health issues.

But they said the American social safety net still fails to provide adequate access for the poor and elderly, noting that state mental health funding declined $4 billion from 2009 to 2012 as a result of budget constraints posed by recession and the weak economic recovery.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • UPDATE: High Drive brush fire now 100% contained

    UPDATE: High Drive brush fire now 100% contained

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 1:17 AM EDT2014-07-29 05:17:55 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Monday afternoon a brush fire broke out on the west side of Spokane's South Hill. The fire, which broke out around 3pm, was burning on the hill between High Drive and Qualchan Golf Course. By 9pm Monday night the fire was 100% contained.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Monday afternoon a brush fire broke out on the west side of Spokane's South Hill. The fire, which broke out around 3pm, was burning on the hill between High Drive and Qualchan Golf Course. By 9pm Monday night the fire was 100% contained.
    >>
  • 44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:46:53 GMT
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>