Nelson: Bridging Gaps in Children’s Mental Health Care

Senator Carla Nelson
2 min readOct 9, 2023

There was an important article in the Pioneer Press the other day, courtesy of experts at Mayo, about the mental health crisis impacting children today.

Emergency room visits among kids and teens for mental health issues doubled between 2011 and 2020. Visits for suicidal thoughts increased 5 times more. In 2019–2020, 6.6% of all emergency room visits for adolescents were suicide-related. The increases were seen in all age groups, genders, races, and ethnicities.

There was a mental health crisis for youth even before Covid, but the pandemic certainly exacerbated those issues. We need to do better. We need to bring attention to gaps in care. We need more awareness and we need to destroy existing stigmas that deter getting help. And we need more and better support services.

One example: When I chaired the Senate Education Committee, student mental health was one of my top priorities. The centerpiece of that effort was the creation of a new school-linked mental health program, which partners schools with mental health professionals to provide treatment right on campus.

This innovative, effective program opened up important mental health services to many students who would not otherwise receive them. Next year, I will author legislation to fund this successful program at an even higher level. Students deserve it.

— Carla

Notes: Read the Pioneer Press story here: