New C.S. Mott Poll Provides Insight into Parental Views of Adolescent Behavioral Health Concerns

New C.S. Mott Poll Provides Insight into Parental Views of Adolescent Behavioral Health Concerns

A national poll identifies trends in parents' awareness, ability to identify, and manage their child’s behavioral health concerns.
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Quick Takes

In the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, more than a quarter of parents say their teen has seen a mental health specialist.

A national poll of parents with children ages 11-18 is providing children’s hospitals with insight into how parents view the behavioral health system, from screening to care. The poll, conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), demonstrates the growing pediatric behavioral health crisis, and the challenges children and families are facing in receiving appropriate care. More than a quarter of parents say their teen has seen a mental health specialist, with 60% of those reporting a visit in the past year.

Here are other key takeaways from the poll.

Warning signs

Almost all parents (95%) are somewhat or very confident they would recognize a possible mental health issue in their adolescent, nothing a number of warning signs of a behavioral health issue they have noticed in their kids that would prompt their concern.

“The pandemic caused significant stress and social disruption for kids that likely exacerbated these problems, as we’re seeing a growing number of young people face mental health concerns,” says Gary Freed, M.D., M.P.H., C.S. Mott Poll co-director and pediatrician. “This places a heavier burden on parents, health providers and other trusted adults in their lives to be aware of potential warning signs.”

Parental response

With over 1,200 parents responding, 82% said their first response following mental health issues with their teens would be to have a conversation. Additional responses include:

  • 55% said they’d keep a closer eye on their child going forward.
  • Less than half of parents—only 43%—said their first response would be to make an appointment with their health care provider.
  • Even fewer parents, 25%, said they’d check in with their child’s teacher at school.

Visiting a provider

Only 40% of parents said their teen's provider asks about mental health concerns at all check-ups. Some providers never ask about mental health concerns, according to the poll. Parents reported they prefer to decide on their own, rather than receive a referral from a primary care physician or through their child’s school, how their child accesses behavioral health care.

Parents also cited long wait times for appointments and challenges in finding a provider who accepted the family’s insurance or saw pediatric patients.

The bottom line is that families’ difficulties finding and getting mental health care reflects the strains in the current mental health care system and highlights the need for more ways to support parents and kids. Read the full report.

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Written By:
Kelly Church
Writer/Editor, Children's Hospital Association

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