(Trigger Warning: This presentation references suicide and mental health concerns)
While for some people, access to Mental Health Care is simple, others have a significantly more difficult time with reaching out, being able to afford it, and physically getting themselves to a place where they can receive help. These issues are only amplified when it comes to a minor requesting mental health aid, as they regularly do not have the capacity to consent to most forms of health treatments* without a parent or guardians agreement as well. In this post, you’ll see several perspectives regarding topics ranging from questioning how minors should be able to access mental health help, to if all young adults are even able to do so fairly.
*Excluding birth control, some abortions, and many services offered by places such as planned parenthood.
Here are the four main bioethical principles that are constantly referenced and discussed when considering if a medical decision is ethical or not:
NOTE-some of these principles can contradict each other in practical applications.
What are the main types of mental health centers and facilities for children in the status quo?
In our world today, there are currently two main way that children gain access to mental health help. Firstly, through Pediatric Psychiatric Hospitals, or Children’s Hospitals that either specialize in mental health, or have mental health centers in them. Secondly through Psychologists and Therapists that some schools offer. The four principles of bioethics overlap with these types of access in manny different ways…
How has the pandemic affected this care for minors? (A case study)
Krissy Williams, a 15 year-old with schizophrenia to try to take her life sometime after March last year. Due to her schizophrenia, Krissy often experienced different types of delusions and hallucinations. Before the pandemic, she was able to use different coping mechanisms to keep them at Bay. However, when covid-19 hit and several of these mechanisms ended (such as school support groups), Krissy spiraled deeper into depression. Despite her mother calling a mental health hotline, Krissy attempted to take her own life. Due to children’s hospitals and mental health facilities overloading due to a lack of resources (stemming from COVID-19) and citizens not having easy access to their regular care facilities, cases like Krissy’s have skyrocketed in the past year. Now more than ever, it is critical to ensure that the mental health of all children is being properly accounted for. (Rodriguez)
- This stems directly into the bioethical principle of Justice, or the allocation of resources. Due to Covid-19 disrupting the way that doctors had previously allocated their time, we have seen an increasingly lower amount of professional focus on Mental Health-specifically that of children. This means that while doctors are trying to save the lives of those infected with the coronavirus, they have also somewhat neglected those suffering or dealing with mental illnesses, and have not been able to provide their resources to such people. However, things may be taking a turn for the better. With the introduction and popularization of video meetings and zoom classes, children have been able to gain a platform that could be used to help with their mental health.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to ensure that every child has access to care mental health care that we know is truly helping them. However, what we can do is consistently check up on young adults to ensure that they are able to get the attention and help that they need and deserve. To ensure that more people can have access to care, it is important for families and communities to make sure that there are spaces where children feel comfortable expressing themselves freely, and have the ability to discuss any issues or worries they may have. Furthermore, as we end our time on online school, it is crucial to ensure that students can have a well paced transition into their normal routines, with extra time and space to adjust to their ‘new’ care resources. The mental wellbeing of children must be prioritized more, especially in times such as these. Finally, each individual (even you reading this!) has the responsibility to ensure that they are acting in a way that is beneficial to not only their own mental health, but to that of others as well.
What are some steps you may take to ensure that your own mental health is being better accounted for? If you have any questions or feedback for me, feel free to leave it here! Thank you for reading!!