Legislation was made a few years ago to provide for pediatricians to address mental health conditions in children, but are they actually qualified to make the diagnoses and help the child through what is happening in their lives to a healthy recovery? What I see is pediatricians prescribing medications for mental health issues and discussing it with lawyers and social workers instead of doctors and family members.
Family is the foundation of any society and courts are tearing our families apart! Parents who suffer from mental conditions fall into even deeper despair when their families are destroyed, and they are told that they can never be parents because of their condition. Sometimes, the parents mental condition is fine until their family is destroyed. That is when many people’s lives tend to spiral out of control.
Studies show that there is a high prevalence of mental illness in the foster care population and that many of the children will be homeless when they age out. What child wouldn’t have some emotions to deal with after losing everyone and everything they know and then being bounced around with strangers?
Courts make children homeless when they put them in foster care. However, the adoption and safe families act funds foster care so that children placed in foster care can receive services if the caregivers care enough to make sure that the children receive the services that they need. Though, most foster parents are not trained to deal with the complex issues that foster children face. The result is that about 80% of the children in state custody are prescribed psychotropic drugs to “help them cope”. Courts do not seem to care about solving the root problems.
When the children age out, they do not have access to the drugs they were prescribed to “help them cope” while they were in foster care. They turn to street drugs because the state’s literally have them addicted to prescription medicines that they no longer have access to. Homeless people have difficulty accessing healthcare.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCLS) has collected data that tells us that children are prescribed doses higher than the maximum levels cited in guidelines developed by the FDA and that legislative action is being taken to address how states are doing this (NCSL, 2021).
The last I looked over 300,000 children less than a year old were prescribed adult doses of medications. Some I would guess were born of parents that were either taking street drugs or prescribed medications, but even if they were born addicted to some substance the amounts of psychotropic drugs they are being prescribed is concerning. What will their lives turn out to be like with no family ties and a bunch of pills to ease the pain?
Serious mental illness costs the United States an estimated $193.2 billion in lost earnings annually and only about 41% of persons with a mental disorder receive any treatment. Mentally ill patients are at higher risks of becoming homeless and homeless people do not have access to medical care and experience higher rates of adverse physical and mental health conditions, suicides, substance abuse, and respiratory diseases.
SAMSHA’s national mental health statistics show that yearly, about 42.5 million (18.2%) American adults suffer from some mental illness. Approximately 9.3 million adults (4%), experience severe mental illness that interferes with their daily lives. Nearly half, (45%) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity. Mood disorders affect about 20.9 million American adults (9.5%) with the median age being around 30 years old.
Homelessness does lead to bigger problems for an individual and for society. People with mental conditions and former foster children make up much of the homeless and prison populations. Reports showed that 50% of the girls in foster care become pregnant before 19 years of age, many (about half) before 18 years of age, 50% of foster children will be in prison within two years of aging out and 74% of foster children will end up in prison, 80% of the people on death row were in foster care (HHS, DOJ, Casey Family Foundation, National Coalition for Foster Children). Less than 3% of foster children will go to college!
The foster care system is broken and parents are having difficulty working through mental health and legal systems. Foster children don’t stand a chance! They are too young to advocate for themselves and are often passed through several homes. Usually more than one a month! They don’t get to have a permanent doctor or team to help them make it through life. This results in missed appointments, miscommunications, and a lack of proper care. Only about 25% of foster children receive services at any given time (Polihronakis, Tina, 2017).
Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state. The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We cannot give legal advice, but we can try and direct you in the right direction with your case. Links to legal services are listed with their states. Please share and let’s grow our groups. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.