Millions of Americans will now be able to receive treatment and services for mental health and substance abuse disorder issues under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As insurance coverage expands, a new UNLV Lincy Institute policy report examines whether Nevada is ready to meet these needs.
In the first of a series on mental health reports, The Lincy Institute provides a look at the state of mental health care services for Nevada children. While Nevada has a smaller proportion of children with mental health conditions, Nevada children have higher rates of depression at 14 percent compared to peer states such as Arizona and Colorado at 10 percent and Florida at 11 percent.
Further, Nevada children are less likely to seek services than those in peer states.
When it comes to caring for Nevada's children, the authors write, "Nevada's children and families experience difficulty in accessing health resources, with many people reporting that services are fragmented and complex, making the system difficult to navigate."
Researchers compared Nevada to Arizona, Colorado and Florida as these states share similarities in economic makeup and urban population.
The report, which includes information from existing national data sets, finds that individual satisfaction with mental health services in Nevada is higher than the U.S. average. However, there is a gap for services especially for those who have co-occurring substance abuse issues. Researchers emphasize more early intervention and prevention programs in schools and community agencies and a stronger investment in behavioral health workforce.
"Nevada has not yet sufficiently studied, documented, planned or budgeted for the recruitment, education and licensing of sufficient numbers of skilled, culturally competent, clinical mental health, substance abuse and co-occurring disorder practitioners," the authors write.
Among the findings:
- A 2007 study from the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health found 54 percent of Arizona children with emotional, behavioral or developmental conditions reported received counseling. In Nevada, 29 percent of children received similar services.
- State funding for Nevada's mental health budget was cut by 17 percent from 2009-2011.
- 30 percent of Clark County public high school students have reported symptoms of depression.
The reports authors are: Ramona Denby, Lincy Institute's senior resident scholar of social services; Sandra Owens, associate professor of social work at UNLV, and Sarah Kern, a UNLV master of social work candidate.