MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) – According to the annual report of the ‘Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health 2022’, the official ratio of professionals and patients is 250 local mental health workers to one, Wisconsin is at 440 to one.
Marshfield Clinic Health System Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Kelsie Offenwanger believes that mental illness is a growing problem and there is not enough professional help. “We’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of quality hospital or inpatient beds available,” Offenwanger said.
The increase in mental health problems and the decrease in staffing are not just adding up. Neither does human age, according to Offenwanger. He added: “Over the years we have seen many young people who want to kill themselves.”
Now, children as young as five go to emergency rooms for their mental health. “Within Wisconsin, we’ve seen the deployment of children as young as 10 years old,” Offenwanger said. “Children have really started to tolerate less frustration. I think in the world of social media and the world we live in they are used to easy access to things. “
Offenwanger said when something doesn’t go the way a child expects, there’s an emotional urge to get it fixed as soon as possible. “I think this emotional reaction causes us to make impulsive decisions and actions that can lead us to say negative things about not wanting to live, not wanting to be here, wanting to hurt someone else, or hurting ourselves.”
Offenwanger encourages parents to look for signs in their child who is struggling with mental illness such as extreme anger, isolation, and changes in sleep patterns.
If anyone needs help talking to their children about their feelings, Offenwanger is doing a health webinar on Friday. Click here to register.
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