Mental Health Issues in Children and Teenagers

29 November 2018 |

Five million children in the U.S. are experiencing mental illness. Without proper treatment, these problems carry over into adulthood causing substantial problems. Diagnosing mental illness in children and teens is challenging due to the changes their bodies are experiencing. Physical and emotional growth, and the process of learning to adapt and relate to others and their environment takes place during these years. Research from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that anxiety disorders start in late childhood, mood disorders tend to show up in late adolescence, and substance abuse typically begins in early adulthood. When you consider that 20% of American children are diagnosed with a mental disorder every year, it is reasonable to consider how insurance companies handle this epidemic.

Mental Health Children and Teenagers

Signs and Symptoms

With children and teenagers, it may be challenging to tell if a problem is a serious issue or just part of growing up. A healthcare professional may need to intervene if you notice the following behaviors:

  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding spending time with friends
  • School performance suffers
  • Smokes, drinks, or uses drugs
  • Harms self or others
  • Thoughts of suicide

Please remember that mental illness is treatable. If you are a young person consider talking to your parents, school counselor, or healthcare provider. If you are a parent with suspicions that your teen or child may be experiencing mental issues, start a conversation about the problem with them today.

Insurance and Mental Disorders

Because of low reimbursement rates, professionals in the mental health and substance abuse fields were not willing to contract with insurers. The result was insurance plans with limited behavioral health options. However, thanks to a 2008 law, coverage for mental health services, behavioral health, and substance abuse disorders must be comparable to physical health coverage. Even so, a 2014 survey found 90 percent of Americans to be unaware of the mental health parity law that makes this coverage possible. The Affordable Care Act necessitates that all health insurance plans sold on state or federal marketplaces offer mental health as a benefit.

Domestic Health Insurance

Legislation views mental and behavioral health services as essential health benefits and all plans must cover:

  • Behavioral and cognitive therapy
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Inpatient care at a mental health facility.

Specific benefits depend on what state a person lives in and the type of health plan. Most employee group health plans cover pre-existing mental and behavioral health conditions.

Visitors Health Insurance

Visitors health insurance policies will typically not cover mental health, behavioral health, or substance abuse treatment for adults or children. A visitor’s policy will, however, cover urgent care visits, hospitalization, surgery, prescription drugs, and acute onset of pre-existing conditions. So, although already existing mental health treatment is not covered directly by visitor’s health insurance, the prescription drugs, acute care visits, and hospitalization related to a new illness are included.

Mental Illness is Treatable

A teenager or child does not have to face mental illness alone. Mental health issues are treatable, and most health insurance companies will pay for mental health services.