Cincinnati area children in crisis wait on the list for mental health care

A fourth grader works with a therapist at Best Point Education and Behavioral Health in Madisonville on June 13.  The nonprofit has a long waiting list of children in the region in need of mental health care.

More than 2,000 children are on a waiting list for mental health help at just one center in the Cincinnati area.

The average waiting time to be seen by a professional: 98 days.

That’s more than 2,000 parents who lie half awake at night listening and worrying about their children, said Kate Schroder, president and CEO of Interact for Health, a nonprofit and health equity funder serving 20 counties in the Greater Cincinnati.

A mental health crisis among children is pushing the limits of care across the region and across the United States.

In Madisonville, the nonprofit Best Point Education and Behavioral Health is a large care provider and serves at-risk children. Only about 10,000 children with mental health needs get help there each year, said John Banchy, president and CEO. And with the severity of the mental health crisis among children, the number could grow.

There’s nothing short of calling it a crisis, Banchy said. As of June 7, Best Point had 2,079 children on the waiting list.

Children ages 8 to 10 have a motor break between group sessions with Susan King, a therapist at Best Point Education and Behavioral Health on June 13.

It’s unclear how many more children are waiting for specialized help in the region, but there’s no doubt among health experts that mental health care for children is nowhere near enough.

In January, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center posted on its website that its emergency department was periodically receiving high volumes of mental health-related emergency visits.

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