The state has extended mental health benefits to uninsured children. Dale Hallow Mental Health Center Director Anne Stamps said the need has increased.
“We are seeing some more anxiety and some more depression in our kids,” Stamps said. “Right now, probably about one in five of our kids have depressive symptoms.”
The Behavioral Health Safety Net program offers essential mental health services for uninsured Tennessee children. Services are available for family incomes at or below federal poverty level. Stamps said parents should look for differences in behavior to identify a change in mental health.
“Some of the emotions are complex, so kind of look for any changes in behavior,” Stamps said. “That could be in who they are talking to, changes in sleep habitats, changes in eating habits, are they more withdrawn or isolated than they were before. Also, kind of monitor their mood.”
Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $7.6 million in new state funding in the current fiscal year to create the Children’s Behavioral Health Safety Net. Stamps said the Upper Cumberland has multiple centers available for families in need.
“We are fortunate here in the Upper Cumberland,” Stamps said. “For Volunteer Behavior Health, we have centers in Cookeville, Crossville, Lafayette, Livingston and McMinnville. Cookeville being kind of the hub of the Upper Cumberland, there are other mental health providers.”
Stamps said isolation and lack of a regular routine created problems for children. As schools return, Stamps said mental health issues should decrease.