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Report: Mental-health needs climbing among women, young Michiganders

Only 20% of kids nationwide are physically active for at least 60 minutes a day, according to a new United Health Foundation report.
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Only 20% of kids nationwide are physically active for at least 60 minutes a day, according to a new United Health Foundation report.

LANSING, Mich. -- Women and young people have faced increased behavioral health challenges since before the pandemic, according to a new report, which assessed the state of well-being for women and children.

The study from the United Health Foundation looked at more than 100 measures, from physical health to emotional, social and behavioral health determinants.

Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer with UnitedHealthcare, said mental distress among women, teens and children has been on the rise.

"A little over 18% of women in the United States said that out of the last 30 days, they did not feel mentally well for 14 of those," Johar reported. "So, for more than half the month, one in five women did not feel well."

Nationwide, teen suicide has jumped 26% since 2014. The report found more than 7,000 kids ages 15 to 19 ended their lives in the two years before the pandemic began.

Bobby Dorigo Jones, policy and outreach coordinator for Michigan's Children, noted relationship-building is critical for young people's mental health.

He said it is important to grow Michigan's mental-health-care workforce, and make sure families know where they can go if they need support.

"To be able to support young people's behavioral health coming out of this pandemic, lawmakers need to support stability of resources, stability of services and stability of relationships," Jones urged.

The report also showed fewer children are accessing developmental screenings and child well-visits nationally.

Johar pointed out a nationwide shortage of doctors is contributing to the dip in the number of kids in waiting rooms.

"We know there's decreased access to pediatricians and to women's health-care professionals," Johar observed. "So, maybe telehealth will be able to help with some of those things."

Most Michiganders have access to health insurance. Between 3% and 4% of Michigan children are uninsured, as are between 7% and 8% of women. The Great Lakes State ranks 22nd for physical activity among children, with just over 23% being active for at least 60 minutes a day.

Originally from just outside Boston, Lily Bohlke is formerly from 2020Talks, a show tracking politics and elections, that started prior to the 2020 Iowa caucuses at KHOI in Ames. She's also a past intern for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.
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