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It’s Time for the Government to Intervene in Adolescent Mental Health

It’s Time for the Government to Intervene in Adolescent Mental Health

Ma’ariv, Israel, October 10

Young people choose not to go for psychological treatment for two main reasons: shame and price. Even today, in 2021, there is a serious problem of stigma in the field of mental health. Beyond that, the treatment is simply too expensive and has become something only the rich can afford. The solution is in the hands of the state, which must step out of its comfort zone and take action that will reduce the gaps in society and save the next generation. The government must expand the subsidized therapeutic response for adolescents and young people and formulate a comprehensive awareness program for adolescents, young people, and their parents. The coronavirus era proved that mental health affects all of us. The last two years have highlighted the urgent need to improve mental health, especially among adolescents and young people, while investing significant financial resources in providing tailored responses and preventing more complex crises. Surveys conducted in recent years among teenagers in Israel showed that 73% of them experienced a mental health crisis. During the coronavirus period, half of the teens reported that their emotional state deteriorated. At the same time, only 11% of them received treatment. And the rest? They considered getting help, but didn’t; 45% because of the high price and 23% because of the shame. Studies show that early intervention and initial treatment reduce the chance of exacerbation of a mental health-related condition, and even the onset of severe mental illness. Therefore, it is crucial to focus the effort on promoting preventive psychological treatment for adolescents and developing additional supportive services for them. There are currently no unique responses tailored to the needs of children, adolescents, and young people in the field of mental health, and the government’s investment in this area is too low. Parents seeking help for their young children define the reality they encounter as a “crisis.” We all have a responsibility to take action that will prevent deterioration to situations from which recovery is more difficult, if not outright impossible. The state must roll up its sleeves: expand the subsidized therapeutic response to adolescents and young people, enact programs that help tackle mental health conditions at their earliest onset, and formulate a comprehensive plan to raise awareness among youth, young people, and their parents, as well as among education staff. These actions are at the doorstep of the new government, which must act quickly and broadly in order to prevent the sweeping deterioration of the situation among the next generation of Israeli citizens. –Hilla Hadas (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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