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Teletherapy’s crucial role in reaching remote students

Historically, people in the United States have been reluctant to talk about mental healthcare issues or therapy in general. But over the past year or so, that has changed. For example, public figures such as Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and professional tennis player Naomi Osaka have shone the spotlight on mental health issues facing young people.

That’s a positive development—and certainly needed during these times. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a stressful environment for many, including young people.

Beginning in April 2020, the proportion of children’s mental health–related emergency department visits among all pediatric emergency department visits increased and remained elevated through October 2020, according to a report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health–related visits for children aged 5 to 11 increased about 25 percent, the CDC said. For those aged 12 to 17, the increase was about 31 percent.

“Monitoring indicators of children’s mental health, promoting coping and resilience, and expanding access to services to support children’s mental health are critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CDC notes.

Many Americans have sought mental health services for themselves or for a loved one. But research shows that a majority do not think mental health services are extremely accessible.

This is particularly true in rural and remote areas of the country. While every student should have access to pediatric mental health services, those services need to be delivered in a way that the therapists are aware of the students’ cultural settings.

Why teletherapy?

According to the CDC, one in six children have a developmental disability, and this number increases to one in five children in rural communities. Unfortunately, resources are not distributed equally, and often do not reach the places most in need of services.

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