Maryland ranks near the middle of the pack (19th) among all states in child well-being as families deal with persistent economic challenges, according to the 2022 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how children and families are faring.
The report reviews health, economic and other challenges affecting American children and how those challenges are more likely to affect children of color.
This is the first time that the KIDS COUNT report has focused on youth mental health. The research shows that children in Maryland, as well as children throughout the US, are in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Recommendations from the report to improve the well-being of Maryland’s children includes:
- Prioritize meeting kids’ basic needs. Youth who grow up in poverty are two to three times more likely to develop mental health conditions than their peers. Children need a solid foundation of nutritious food, stable housing, and safe neighborhoods — and their families need financial stability — to foster positive mental health and wellness.
- Ensure every child has access to the mental health care they need, when and where they need it. Schools should increase the presence of social workers, psychologists, and other mental health professionals on staff and strive to meet the 250- to-1 ratio of students to counselors recommended by the American School Counselor Association, and they can work with local health care providers and local and state governments to make additional federal resources available and coordinate treatment.
- Bolster mental health care that takes into account young people’s experiences and identities. It should be trauma-informed — designed to promote a child’s healing and emotional security — and culturally relevant to the child’s life. It should be informed by the latest evidence and research. It should be geared toward early intervention, which can be especially important in the absence of a formal diagnosis of mental illness.
Links to Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT data