Report: MT 20th in Child Well-Being; Mental Health Remains an Issue
Monday, August 8, 2022
Montana ranks in the upper half of states for child wellbeing, according to an annual report. But mental health among young people remains a concern.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks states based on four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. This year, it places the Treasure State at 20th.
Xanna Burg is KIDS COUNT coordinator with the Montana Budget and Policy Center. She noted that depression and anxiety are high among Montana children and teens.
"The reality here is that Montana youth have struggled with mental health for years," said Burg. "So this isn't a new topic. But the concerning piece and really, the urgency behind talking about this now, is that the trends really are getting worse."
The data was collected from 2020, the first year of the pandemic. The report, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, finds mental health is a concern across the country, as kids felt the pressures from COVID-19.
Nationally, nearly 12% of children had anxiety or depression. In Montana, the number was 13.4%.
Burg said more counselors in schools is one way to addressing these growing numbers, although she noted that the solutions might look different in rural communities.
"Rural communities might not have the student population to fund a full-time counselor," said Burg. "So, ways to think about sharing staff among school systems, implementing telehealth or partnering with other community health services may be other ways to think about how this need is filled."
The number of children in poverty has improved, but Burg said it's still concerning that 34,000 Montana kids are living in families with incomes below the poverty line.
She said the federal government has offered supports, such as additional food assistance during the pandemic, but noted that this help is likely to expire soon.
"So, at a state level," said Burg, "thinking about how we're supporting families that are still struggling to afford things like healthy food, so that when kids show up to school, they're ready to learn and they're not thinking about being hungry."
get more stories like this via email
Nebraska has had a number of deadly and destructive fires this year, and nearly half the state remains in extreme or exceptional drought. If it is as …
Illinois voters approved a "Workers' Rights Amendment" to the state constitution which broadens the state workforce's rights to collective bargaining…
Health and Wellness
The legal fight over North Dakota's abortion ban continues, and oral arguments about one element of the case were heard by the state Supreme Court …
Wildlife biologists are warning Iowa hunters to have their deer tested for a deadly condition known to attack the animal's brain. Chronic Wasting …
Nevada marriage-equality groups say the U.S. Senate's passage of the Respect for Marriage Act is a huge step forward for people who identify as LGBTQ+…
After the calendar flips to December, South Dakota will see the return of colder temperatures during a period of higher natural-gas costs. Fire …
By Phil Roberts for Next City.Broadcast version by Edwin J. Viera for New York News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-Public …
Conservation groups are pushing to keep federal protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. Boundaries of …