Home > Public Policy > School/Community Mental Health > Barriers to Care
What keeps youth and families from receiving the care and support they deserve? Key barriers include:
There are not enough qualified children’s mental health practitioners to meet the need for these services. In specific, the number of culturally competent or linguistically matched providers falls far short of meeting the demand for such services.
If families do not have health insurance or are unaware of their rights to coverage, finances can be the first barrier. In addition, parents may not have transportation to get their children to appointments, or appointment times may compromise parents’ ability to keep their job or earn the money needed to support their children. Parents may find it difficult to negotiate appointments and scheduling with medical offices. Lack of child care for siblings may make it difficult to take a troubled child to an appointment. Language differences—with the clinician or with administrators in the medical office—can keep children from appointments.
Parents may not want to admit that their child needs help or may not want to go to a clinic due to the strong negative social stigma associated with mental illness. In a pluralistic society, there are a variety of cultural beliefs about mental, emotional, and physical health and healing. Some of these attitudes are at odds with the western concept of mental illness and mental health. In addition, minority communities may have widespread distrust of “the system” based on a history of being on the receiving end of discriminatory practices and abuse. Communities that have experienced firsthand the negative impact of widespread substance abuse may not distinguish between illicit drugs and medically prescribed psychotropic medications, hesitating to condone the use of psychotropic medications with children.
These include the cost of services and lack of universal health insurance. Furthermore, collaboration between providers frequently is insufficient or non-existent. There is a parallel disconnection between providers and children’s community supports. Even in communities that have some mental health services, the range of treatment options is limited.
School-based services address many typical barriers to care that AIP’ urban, low-income, culturally/racially diverse population faces.