A new poll called “Truth in Medicine” conducted by Mount Sinai South Nassau since 2017 has just been completed. Its findings were that more than a third of Long Island residents who sought mental health services had difficulty finding a provider, even if they had insurance coverage.
The poll, sponsored by Bethpage Credit Union, also found that anxiety, depression, social isolation and fear of contracting Covid-19 are the most common issues among those who have accessed professional services. mental health since the start of the pandemic.
In this survey of 600 Long Island residents, 92% have active health insurance policies. Of those surveyed who sought care, 36% said it was “difficult” to get the help they wanted or needed, mainly because of difficulty making appointments or lack of coverage by their health insurer.
A significant percentage of survey respondents also believe that institutions such as government, municipalities and schools could do more to increase the reach of mental health services in the community. Forty-six percent said the government was not doing enough to help, while only 32 percent said it was.
“We have a crisis on Long Island when it comes to the lack of mental health services,” says Adhi Sharma, president of Mount Sinai South Nassau. “The survey results clearly indicate that suppliers are working at or above capacity. This requires an aggressive expansion of mental health screening, prevention and intervention services to meet current and future demand.
Since the start of the pandemic, about 84% of mental health care providers have seen an increase in demand for anxiety treatment, up from 74% a year ago, while 72% of providers have seen an increase in demand for depression treatment, up from 60% in 2020.
School officials have reported spikes in demand for mental health services among students, even among elementary and middle school students. Meanwhile, some psychiatrists and psychologists report high demand for services but difficulty finding the right staff to meet the demand.
Some local headteachers have called on government officials to do more to address mental health needs in schools and local communities. Dr Shari Camhi, Superintendent of Schools at Baldwin, said we need to look at the issue through the eyes of children. “We have to reflect on what the experience has been like for the kids so life goes on as normal and in March 2020 everything stopped, everyone went home, routines are completely disrupted, there was the parents’ house,” she said.
For a while it was almost idyllic, she continued, “At least at first what we saw was young people going back to what I would call childhood, you had a community, you were playing at home, you were cycling around the neighborhood. but over time, what we have seen is that these disruptions continue. Disruptions such as the constant negative emissions portrayed in social media and the news started to get too much for many, “We started to see this anxiety go up and up because the rhetoric was nothing but iffy and uncertain.”
Freeport Schools Superintendent Kishore Kuncham also weighed in on young people’s mental health, saying while the issues aren’t new per se, they’re being exacerbated due to the pandemic. “We faced the concerns of fear, anxiety, depression even before the pandemic and during the pandemic and now it has gotten worse and is putting a strain on the school system.”
The district’s pre-pandemic preparedness softened the initial blow, Kuncham said, but that’s just the beginning. “We were a bit ahead of the game to be able to respond to the increased needs that have arisen during the pandemic and after the pandemic, but that is not enough, there is still a lot to do on an ongoing basis,” he said. .
At Rockville Center, Jeanne Love, Assist. The superintendent of special education and student personnel services said the school has a two-part strategy to deal with these issues. “Our perspective at Rockville Center is very strategic, we have a very strategic plan in place. In a sense, we want to ensure that students have access to mental health care if they need it through community partnerships that we have with our local hospitals.
In part two, Love said, “In another vein, her preventative and proactive care, we looked at working with our mental health staff, looking at things like self-advocacy, identifying their self-esteem of self, hope, have hope for the future and stability.
Recognizing that many children with psychiatric disorders remain unidentified and untreated, the U.S. Task Force on Preventive Services recently issued a recommendation calling for screening for anxiety in asymptomatic children ages 8-18 who do not ‘have not been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and at screening children aged 12 to 18 years. for major depressive disorder.
“The key to knowing when to seek help is determining how the symptoms affect overall functioning,” says Stanley Reddy, chair of psychiatry and behavioral health. “Marked decreases in functioning at work, school, and home should be assessed by a professional quickly before they become an emergency.”
The poll found that in the event of a mental health emergency, 64% of respondents and 80% of respondents with children agreed they knew where to find services, while only 20% disagreed and 17% were unsure.
Opinions were very divided as to whether mental health services on Long Island are adequate or not. Thirty-six percent said they were satisfied, 29 percent said they weren’t, and 35 percent were unsure. About half of respondents from households that have used mental health services say they are adequate.
Mount Sinai South Nassau has a 36-bed inpatient mental health unit and offers behavioral health services at its Mental Health Counseling Center in Baldwin, as well as its Primary and Behavioral Health Care Center in Hempstead .