Untreated mental health issues in children, youth, and young adults devastate individuals, extend to their families, and spread across the community to cost taxpayers dearly. But the barriers that prevent youth from receiving the care that they need are not insurmountable.
On Tuesday, March 26, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation hosted a forum to update the community on a yearlong research scan of child and youth mental health in Sarasota County. The study was commissioned by the two foundations and conducted by the University of South Florida. Focused on young people up to age 24, the project aimed to identify strengths and gaps in mental-health services and prioritize ways to make the system work more effectively for our community's children and their families.
Researchers identified eight key recommendations to effectively transform mental-health care for youth in Sarasota County. They center on strengthening the system of care, supporting families, educating service providers, and eliminating the stigma of receiving mental health care.
“No one should be alone in dealing with a mental health crisis,” said Teri A Hansen, President | CEO of Barancik Foundation. “Our goal is to weave the social fabric of mental health care to ensure that no child or family falls through the cracks.”
The Impact of Unmet Needs
The report estimates that the economic cost due to untreated mental illness for children and young adults in Sarasota County is more than $86 million per year. The primary drivers of this cost are suicide, criminal justice, education, and worker productivity. Only half of children with a mental health condition under age 15 received mental health services in the previous year.
“This important research exposes the gaps and unmet needs that we have suspected for a long time,” said Mark S. Pritchett, President | CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “We now need to work together with our mental health providers on setting priorities and begin building a complete system of mental health care.”
From Research Scan to Action Plan
Informed by this data, local foundations and other funders will work with public and private stakeholders across the community to create an action plan and execute the recommendations to improve the mental health care system.
The Mental Health Project Fund has been established at Gulf Coast to accept charitable gifts to support this work. To donate to the fund, go here and select "Mental Health Project Fund" from the drop-down list.