Mental Health Policy: What Needs to Change?


Every year, millions of young people suffering from mental health issues go untreated. There are many reasons this occurs, and it is a very complicated issue, but I think a few policy changes here in New York would make a large difference.

I am advocating first for a change in our mental health education. Schools need to teach children from a young age about specific mental health problems, how to tell if they or a friend may be suffering, and how to get help. I believe that if elementary school students learn about depression and anxiety in the same context as personal hygiene and safety, the stigma surrounding mental health will decrease and people will know more.

Secondly, I don’t believe that parental consent should be required for a minor to receive help for their mental health issue. While parents often know what is best for their children, in many cases this is not true. Parents may hold the opinion that they can personally help their child, that their problems are not serious, or that they are lying about their problems, all when the child could heavily benefit from medication and/or therapy. This means that even when a child is actively seeking help for mental health issues, they might not actually receive it. This is why I believe that all public schools should be required to have trained mental health professionals on their staffs that can diagnose mental health problems and give students therapy. This is already the case at many schools, but I believe that the requirement will get a lot of students help even if their parents don’t believe they need it.

Finally, but most difficult of all, I believe that all minors should have access to free treatment for all health issues. It does not make sense to me that here, in one of the richest countries in the world, a child can have the quality of their treatment determined by their family’s financial situation. Even if one holds the belief that people should have to pay for necessary treatment, it is ridiculous that people who are not even old enough to have jobs can be given better, worse, or no treatment just based on what situation they were born into. If this change was made, everyone would get the same quality of care, and children would not have to feel like a financial burden on their parents just because they were seeking help.

If these changes are passed, we can make our state an easier place to live for the hundreds of thousands of young people suffering from problems out of their control.


Link to a petition calling on Governor Cuomo and New York State to take action: