It is estimated that about 15 million U.S. children experience a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder each year – and only 20 percent are ever diagnosed and receive treatment. Due to a lack of financial resources, many individuals are unable to receive vital treatment.
Kelly Brown, Executive Director of Saving Teens in Crisis Collaborative, joins Sheila Hyland to discuss the resources readily available for teens and families seeking a pathway to recovery.
Hyland: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that, in any given year, as many as 1 in 5 children between the ages of 3 and 17 experience a mental disorder including anxiety, depression, addiction, and other risky behaviors. And while treatment may be needed, it is often out of financial reach. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Sheila Hyland. Joining me is Kelly Brown, Executive Director of SavingTeens in Crisis Collaborative. Kelly, welcome to the program.
Brown: Thank you so much for having me.
Hyland: Start out by giving us a sense of what these teens are going through or these kids that has led them to be in crisis at such a young age.
Brown: Sure. Parents contact us because they´re desperate. So there´s different scenarios. Kids could be missing school, using drugs, there could be anxiety, depression, other risky behaviors meaning, you know, sneaking out of the house at night, defiance, but to the point where it´s impacting their lives and their ability to really be successful.
Hyland: And what are the ramifications to society if we don´t get to these kids when they´re young?
Brown: What we find and what the reports are showing is that many of the kids will end up through the juvenile system. There will be earlier death rates, suicides, and then just the dropout rate is really high for kids that aren´t getting the treatment that they need.
Hyland: But the cost to treat them can be exorbitant. I understand some families are remortgaging their houses, they´re using up all their retirement savings. Talk about the financial strain on these families.
Brown: Sure. John Reuben, a parent, actually formed SavingTeens because, as he was putting his two sons through treatment, he saw so many families that could not handle the financial burden. So there are so many families that don´t have access because the resources are limited. They reach out to SavingTeens to get some financial assistance, and how the nonprofit is set up is we´re a collaboration. So programs, educational consultants are willing to work pro bono or at a significantly discounted rate, and the programs give generous and kind scholarships along with our cash contribution of a scholarship to find a way that we can make the monthly payment of the family, you know, somewhat comfortable and affordable.
Hyland: And this is a multi-phase solution -- very comprehensive. Talk a little bit more about the program as a whole.
Brown: Right. So the teens that we work with, we believe in a 12-to-24-month process and a long-term road to recovery. Our professional educational consultants that, you know, are our ambassadors and volunteers, they are so experienced in all of the different programs that are available and what needs are specific to the teen to actually look, you know, 12 months, 24 months down the road and really, you know, provide the best opportunity for success.
Hyland: I know that you want people to understand that there is such a need for more outreach and more awareness of what is going on with the kids and the need to pay for it.
Brown: Absolutely. So teens in crisis is everywhere. It´s any demographic. It could be your family. It could be your neighbor´s. It could be my family. So what´s happening right now, there are so many families that are in need, and it´s just financially out of reach for them. So the amount of families that can pay for it on their own is really few and far between. So we need the outreach and awareness to really help these teens get the access to the treatment and really change their lives. I tell a lot of people it´s not just a donation in saving a teen or their family. You´re really changing the world because you´re giving them the opportunity.
Hyland: So how can someone donate and help the cause at SavingTeens?
Brown: By going to savingteens.org, our website. You could read more about our organization and make a donation. You can get involved. You can also utilize our services, and we´re always glad and willing to help, and we´re always, you know, looking for ways to be able to bridge that gap so there´s more teens available to access the road to recovery.
Hyland: You´re making a difference in many kids´ lives.
Brown: Thank you.
Hyland: All right, Kelly Brown, thank you so much, with SavingTeens, for being with us today.
Brown: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Hyland: And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Sheila Hyland.