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
Programs intended to reduce the chances that someone will end up back behind bars are working, according to a new analysis of California state data…
Arizona is gearing up for its presidential preference election that takes place in less than a month, and registered Democrats and Republicans were …
You might say "every day is 'bring your child to college day'" at New Hampshire's Manchester Community College. On-campus childcare programs are …
By Elizabeth Ouzts for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Shanteya Hudson for North Carolina News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism…
The number of Black mothers in Ohio who die during or following pregnancy continues to climb and health advocates said they hope to shine a light on t…
It's been an uphill battle for childhood nutrition advocates to advance meal access policies in the South Dakota Legislature. However, organizers say …
A cooperative effort has seeded more than 26,000 acres in eastern Nevada. It's all in an effort to increase desirable grasses, forbs and shrubs while …
Texas postal customers, especially in rural areas, are experiencing delays in mail delivery, and some letter carriers feel it could get worse…