RICHMOND HILL, GA- The Commission on Children's Mental Health released a report this week listing eight different recommendations for improving state services in Georgia.
Currently, lawmakers say we are dealing with a mental health crisis. The latest numbers show that suicide among teens has doubled in the past decade. According to the CDC, a child under the age of 13 commits suicide every 1 in 5 days. Experts told News 3, that number has only spiked in the last couple of years.
"It's alarming and it's frightening," said Timeka Howard, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Therapist at Satchase Creative Therapy. "In one instant they can click the button and hear the thing that's said about a child that's going out to 100 students."
Howard told News 3 a major factor in the increase in suicide rates is students bullying online and in schools, the place where she says they should make mental health a priority. "We need to make it just like we make Math and English, necessary. We need to make anti-bullying necessary," she said.
Howard is not the only one who believes that. Governor Nathan Deal is recommending funding for greater suicide prevention services and school-based care. He is also hoping to combat substance abuse among kids who seek to self-medicate.
"We think that our children go into their room and shutting the door, we kind of write it off as 'oh they're just a teenager they don't want to be bothered,' but we need to bother them," said Howard.
Howard also told News 3 she believes the Commission's report is a step in the right direction but that the state still has a long way to go. She asks parents, counselors and teachers to pay attention and stay educated to help prevent these things from happening in our community. Howard said, "because it is happening right here, as sad as it may be. It is happening."
To view the full Commission on Children's Mental Health report, click here.
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