Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Nebraska Women, Children Report More Anxiety, Mental Distress

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Thursday, October 28, 2021   

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Women and young people have been facing increased behavioral-health challenges since before the pandemic, according to a new report assessing the state of women and children's well-being.

The study, from the United Health Foundation, looked at more than 100 measures, from physical health to emotional social and behavioral determinants of health. It found teen suicides and anxiety among children have been rising.

Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer with UnitedHealthcare, said mental wellbeing is a major factor for women's overall health.

"A little over 18% of women in the United States said that out of the last 30 days, they did not feel mentally well for 14 of those," Johar reported. "So for more than half the month, one in five women did not feel well."

Nationwide, teen suicide has jumped 26% since 2014. The report found more than 7,000 kids ages 15 to 19 ended their lives in the two years before the pandemic began. Nebraska ranks 30th for number of uninsured children, and more than 11% of women are uninsured.

Aubrey Mancuso, executive director of Voices for Children in Nebraska, said families in need of mental-health support can call the Nebraska Family Helpline, run through Boys Town, to find out about available services in their area. It can be reached 24/7 at 888-866-8660.

"We didn't have an adequate infrastructure to really support the behavioral-health and mental-health needs of kids and families," Mancuso contended. "And so, you saw in Nebraska that even prior to the pandemic, those numbers of people reporting frequent mental distress were increasing."

Mancuso noted if the rising levels of mental-health challenges go unaddressed, the effects will linger far beyond the pandemic. She added that it is crucial to make commitments to ensuring mental-health professionals are embedded in schools, pediatric offices and hospitals.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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