Published by NC Child and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, North Carolina’s latest Child Health Report Card gives the state high marks for children’s health coverage. However, the data also provide a vivid illustration of how the pandemic exacerbated several troubling trends facing our children.
In 2023, North Carolina earned failing grades in several key areas, including Mental Health, School Health, Housing & Economic Security, and Birth Outcomes. North Carolina is making progress in other areas, including preconception health & maternal health support, and substance use.
“Our state is falling woefully short of our goals for children’s mental health and well-being,” said Kathleen Colville, President and CEO of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. “As we continue our pandemic recovery, this report should be a call to action for consensus-building around policies and programs that promote the health and safety of all North Carolina kids.”
Opportunities to Strengthen Children’s Health
“Every one of our children deserves the chance to thrive, regardless of whether they live in a rural or urban area, their race, gender, or how much money their parents make,” said Erica Palmer Smith, Executive Director of NC Child. “The data on children’s mental health should come as a wake-up call. As parents, elected leaders, clinicians, we need all hands on deck right now to reverse this crisis and help get our struggling kids back to health.”
State policy-makers have several opportunities to address some critical points for children’s health in North Carolina highlighted in the Report Card.
- Removing barriers to mental health care;
- Enhancing the availability of mental health care and crisis intervention in public schools, particularly in rural areas where specialty care is less available; and
- Making it harder for children and youth to get access to lethal means of self-harm (e.g., safe storage of firearms and prescription drugs).