Marshall Field, Wisconsin (WSAW) – According to the “Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health 2022 Annual Report,” the recommended professional-to-patient ratio is 250 to 1, compared to 440 to 1 in Wisconsin.
Marshfield Clinic Health System child and adolescent psychologist Kelsie Offenwanger believes mental health is a growing problem and there is not enough professional help. “We found a significant reduction in the number of behavioral health clinics or available inpatient beds,” Offenwanger said.
An increase in mental health crises coupled with a decrease in staffing doesn’t add up. Nor are age demographics, according to Offenwanger. She added, “Over the years, we’ve regularly seen more suicidal ideation in teens.”
Children as young as 5 are now going to the emergency room with mental health issues. “In Wisconsin, we’re seeing a high number of referrals for children under the age of 10,” Offenwanger said. “Kids really start to have a low tolerance for frustration. I think with social media and this face-centric world we live in, they’re used to having it all at their fingertips.”
If things aren’t going the way a child expected, there’s a strong desire to fix them right away, Offenwanger said. “I think those extremes of emotion lead to impulsive decisions and impulsive reactions that lead to negative comments that we don’t want to live, don’t want to be here, want to hurt other people or hurt ourselves.”
Offenwanger advises parents to look for signs that their child is struggling with mental health, such as irritability, isolation and changes in sleep patterns.
If anyone needs help talking to kids about their emotions, Offenwanger is hosting a mental health webinar this Friday. Click here to register.
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