Pediatric Mental Health Is In Crisis

Colorado Children’s hospital has declared a pediatric mental health emergency having witnessed suicide attempts and psychiatric help-calls for children spike during the pandemic. The hospital says they have seen a 90% increase in demand for behavioral health treatment in the past two years. Despite expanding their behavioral health services, they cannot keep up with the demand. Emergency transport teams have been reporting three to four suicide attempts per week and have requested additional training on how to deal with these situations. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for children over the age of 10 in the state

Unfortunately, the crisis is not limited to Colorado. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of mental health-related emergency room visits increased 24% for young children and 31% for teens from March to October of last year compared to 2019 as seen in the below chart (Figure 1). Colorado Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Brumbaugh says in 20 years, he’s never seen such a demand for services.

As we begin to control and develop defenses against Covid-19, we need to give equal priority to the syndemics that have evolved from the pandemic. Covid-19 will leave deep scars on our psyche and impact the mental health of our population for years to come. I have previously written about the increase in depression, anxiety, loneliness, and substance abuse in young adults aged 18-24. But the crisis in pediatric behavioral health is just as urgent and can also lead to greater health and socioeconomic disparities later in life for these children.

Read the full article on Forbes 

Originally published on Forbes on June 4, 2021         

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.