As a pediatrician in my first year of training, I read Patricia Wen’s “Children’s access to mental care grows” with great interest. Wen highlights the importance of easy access to mental health services for children, but does not explore the disparate burden of mental health problems for children from low-income families who most need these services.
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, low-income children are approximately twice as likely to have mental health problems — 21 percent compared with about 10 percent nationally. In addition, about half of children in the child welfare system and two-thirds of youth in the juvenile justice system have mental health problems. How can we shift the discussion to focus on improving the delivery of services for those in highest need?