Georgia is experiencing a rise in the number of children diagnosed with mental health disorders, but the shortage of mental health care providers is making it hard for parents to get their children the care they need.
“As a music therapist, I worked in the area of mental health for many years. So, I understand the importance of therapy, especially for our young people today,” said Emily Baumann, a retired music therapist and community supporter. “I see all of these horrible things they are facing and it seems there is stress everywhere they turn, especially during this past year.”
With the nationwide shortage of pediatric psychiatrists and some health insurance agencies not covering behavioral health services, children are oftentimes left waiting for months to get the help they need, said Dr. Vaughn McCall, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
“We are faced with a vicious cycle,” said McCall. “On one side, we have children with mental health problems who need psychotherapy, but their parents can’t afford it and their insurance won’t pay for it. And on the other side are the child and adolescent psychiatry fellows who need to be trained to provide that therapy, but who can’t do so with these children because of Medicaid rules.”
“In Georgia, Medicaid insurance does not pay for psychotherapy provided by trainees. Without that option, these children could linger on a waiting list for an appointment with one of only a handful of child and adolescent psychiatrists at MCG and in the surrounding area,” she said.
To help counteract this crisis and provide more access to youth in need of mental health care for generations to come, Baumann is donating $1 million to Augusta University’s Augusta Gives campaign today, April 21, toward the endowment of the Emily S. Baumann Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy fund to pay for trainees to provide therapy.
“The generous contribution of Emily Baumann will allow Augusta University to meet the needs of one of Georgia’s most vulnerable populations — its youth — by ensuring our state’s young people have access to respected mental health experts and resources both now and into the future,” said Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel, PhD.
“We are incredibly grateful to Emily Baumann for the extremely generous gift she is making today that will ensure — for years to come — that children in our area will receive mental health services who otherwise would not have access to such care,” McCall added.
Since the fund was established in March 2016, it has garnered nearly $285,000 in donations from more than 50 donors contributing to the fund as of today. The funding has also provided more than 3,500 hours of therapy sessions to date.
“I started this fund because mental health is a passion for me and it concerns me that some children don’t have access to these critical services,” said Baumann. “After contributing to this fund for several years, I have been inspired by the generous donations of others who support this cause. I have received beautiful letters from some of the fellows in the Department of Psychiatry telling me how the children were when they first came for treatment and how much better they are after receiving good and consistent psychotherapy over many sessions.”
Learn more about the Emily S. Baumann Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy fund and Augusta University’s Augusta Gives campaign.