During the month of May, we take the time to recognize the efforts of foster carers and the individuals they care for. Additionally, it is crucial to highlight the importance of mental health initiatives during this month, as it is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Though vastly important as independent subjects, foster care and mental health have the capacity to influence each other.
It's important to bring to light facts about foster care that many may not know. This way, the public will have a better understanding of the foster care population and the implications regarding their experience. For starters, foster youth is predominantly made up of those just about 8 and a half years old. Additionally, the average time foster youth typically spends in care is just under two years with over 25,600 spending over 5 years.
Though over half of foster youth are reunited with their primary guardians upon exiting the system, many foster youth experience high levels of depression and anxiety. This is important to link into the discussion this month because mental health may be an aspect of foster care worth investing more into. To be more specific, foster youth have been found to be seven times more likely to experience depression and five times more likely to experience anxiety.
Nation-wide, mental health resources are often overlooked and not regarded as important as they should be. This should certainly be of bigger concern given the fact that many individuals of our youth are becoming increasingly vocal about their experiences with mental health issues. It may also be important to note that former foster youth are twice as likely as veterans to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As a society, we should invest our efforts, funds, and overall initiatives into linking mental health resources with those who need them most, in and outside of foster care. Just about 8 out of every 10 individuals of foster youth go into the system with recognizable mental health needs. This suggests it is important to ensure proper mental care for individuals of all ages and backgrounds in an attempt to avoid challenges and the need for additional resources in the future. However, resources should always be developed and implemented for cases in which they are needed.
Foster carers do an excellent job at providing care for the youth that need it. Just about 95% of parents who have adopted foster youth indicate they would make the same decision again. Today, about 184,000 households in the United States are home to foster youth! Caring for the mental and physical health and needs of youth is important in contributing to a compassionate and healthy society. If we expand our efforts in linking mental health resources and foster care resources to those who need it, we can do so efficiently!
Meet The Author
Emily Falcon is a Cuban-American student studying pre-med at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. She is also an undergraduate Research Assistant for Gulf War Illness clinical trials at NSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.