Nevada has had a shortage of behavioral health providers as the state attempts to curb rising rates of mental health needs. This has stressed many state resources, prompting lawmakers and experts to seek new options and funding. Here’s a roundup of recent stories reflecting these challenges.
Nevada Teens Can Text for Mental Health Help
The nonprofit NAMI Western Nevada has launched the new NV Teen Text Line, providing non-crisis mental health support for individuals aged 14-24 years. This program, funded by the Division of Public and Behavioral health, is available from noon to 10 p.m. every day.
Loved ones who are concerned with a teen or young adult struggling with mental health concerns can send an email to NVtextline@gmail.com to initiate a text. Users engage in a one-on-one text conversation with a trained, young adult Peer Wellness Operator. NAMI Western Nevada noted that such connections may help teens feel less likely to experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
State to Receive Federal Funds for Mental Health Hotline
Nevada will receive $1 million in federal money for the launch of its dedicated 988 mental health hotline, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced in April. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak also recently announced a new $20 million allocation of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan toward the state’s crisis stabilization centers.
Individuals who experience a behavioral health crisis will be able to use the new 988 hotline instead of 911. The new number is scheduled to launch on July 16, 2022.
Congress approved a nationwide switch to the hotline in October 2020. In 2021, Nevada lawmakers approved SB390, which specified a state-level switch. This bill included the creation of a support center to answer calls and coordinate responses, and the creation of mobile teams to respond to those calls.
Nevada’s Child Welfare Services Struggle With Mental Health Demand
County administrators in Nevada report that the state’s child welfare systems are overwhelmed due to a lack of mental health services. Many children are entering foster care because their caregiver cannot take care of them due to mental health conditions that could have been treated sooner.
Since August 2021, more than 80 children have been brought into Clark County’s child welfare system because their parents could not provide for the child’s mental health, says Timothy Burch, an administrator with the Clark County Department of Family Services. At this rate, more than 120 children may be surrendered to the county this year for that reason.
Ryan Gustafson, director of children’s services at Washoe County Human Services Agency, says that his county has seen decreased intensive treatment options for mental health. This creates longer wait times and more stress on families.
Nevada has 6.3 per 1,000 children in state care, compared to the national average of 5.6 per 100,000. According to Mental Health America, Nevada ranks last in overall mental health ranking, with a high prevalence of mental illness and low availability of care.
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