Legislation Proposals For Children's Health

By: Jummy Olabanji Email
By: Jummy Olabanji Email

January 13, 2007

A growing health problem in children across the country is gaining attention from law makers here in the Commonwealth.

The health industry is seeing a growing number of cases where children are being diagnosed with mental health problems.

Virginia governor Tim Kaine is proposing new legislation to help those children with special needs.

There are around 200 children's psychiatrists in Virginia.

But, according to Dr. Roger Burket, here in the commonwealth it’s still difficult for children to get access for special services because there are so few providers.

About five million children nationwide suffer from mental health conditions.

“Probably one of the most common things that people have heard of are ADHD, and other behavioral problems, we see a great deal of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and learning disabilities,” said Burket.

But, due to low numbers of specialists many of these children end up on waiting lists to seek treatment.

“One in five children sometime during their youth will have some sort of emotional problem and because of the shortage we only have one or two of those five children actually get the service that they need,” said Burket.

That's where Virginia governor Tim Kaine steps in.

Kaine introduced budget proposals of nearly $500,000 dollars that would fund four child psychiatry and four child psychology internships at Virginia universities.

“Well, I do think that its very important to get the mental health services to children because if its holding them back either socially or with their education, its going to be much harder to fix up later on, so the access to services is very important so that we can get the treatment in place as early as possible and get them back on their normal developmental pathway,” said Burket.

Advocates are also lobbying for an additional $700,000 to create training programs for health professionals who are not mental health experts.

If you think your child could be suffering from a mental health condition, doctors suggest contacting you family doctor so your child can get tested.

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