PLAN FOR TRAINS LEAVING
Linear park? It will be railroad tracks covered in weeds ("Reimagining downtown," April 1). They sound confident that all this money will show up. I hope they are right. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars to reroute the trains, it seems like maybe a plan for the Third Street corridor should already be in place.
THANK A LIBRARY WORKER
April 8 was National Library Workers Day. Join me in thanking all the people who are employed or volunteer at public and private libraries for the dedication they have to serving people. Library people offer us access to some very important tools of learning in the books, newspapers, magazines, photographs, maps, documents, videos, audio recordings and more that they share, in the computers and related trainings they provide and in the form of the recommendations they offer to make our reading experiences more adventurous and fulfilling.
The members of the Academy of Lifelong Learning at Lincoln Land Community College are very thankful to have partnered with area libraries for the current success of the NEA Big Read of 2021 in Sangamon County (continuing through April 30). Please take time to write a note or voice your appreciation to these special people.
Judy Wagenblast, chair of the steering committee for the 2021 NEA Big Read
DISPARITIES IN MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
For years, it has been well-documented that African American youth have underutilized mental health services ("Working for equity," April 1). This is particularly problematic, given the number of Black youth that have mental and behavioral health challenges. Findings from the National Comorbidity Survey – Adolescent Supplement demonstrate that nearly half of African American respondents (46.8%) experienced a mental health disorder before the age of 18. Black youth are diagnosed with behavioral and conduct disorders at a significantly higher rate than white youth, but services are not sought out.
African American adolescents are significantly less likely to have seen or talked with a mental health professional for a major depressive episode. They are significantly less likely to have an outpatient visit for a mental health problem than their white counterparts. Identifying the barriers associated with utilizing mental health services for African Americans is essential for reducing racial disparities in mental health treatment and the consequences of unaddressed mental health needs. These disparities exist even among insured African American families and those who live within proximity to mental health professionals.
In understanding African American youths' mental health, one should be mindful of whether the youth, and their caregivers, have a primary care source. Also, do providers accept Medicaid or are private plans and services offered on a sliding scale basis? Additionally, there needs to be a regular push to educate caregivers, youth and minority communities on the importance of identifying mental and behavioral health needs and services.
There is a call to identify the factors that hinder African American youths' path toward obtaining mental health services. Who will adhere to the call?
Alice Lillian Ivy-Wilson