Mental Health Of Children And Teens Remains A Concern As Pandemic Wanes

Many children and young people suffered from mental health problems even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the problems associated with the pandemic soaring, children’s hospitals are asking for more support for the needs of their patients.

“Even before the pandemic, we always understood that around one in five children and teenagers would experience some type of mental illness in any given year,” said Amy Knight, president of the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA).

Recent studies have shown that the pandemic actually exacerbated such problems. Due to the pandemic, care for a psychiatric conflict is often delayed, according to Knight, making the situation worse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of visits to the mental health emergency department across the country increased 24 percent year-over-year for children ages five to 11 from April to October 2020 and in 12 to 17 years by 31 percent. Year olds.

Knight points to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa as an example. She says the hospital is experiencing an “explosion” of inpatient admissions for attempted suicide.

“Explosion actually means two things. First, it means people show up when things get bad enough, ”Knight said. “We are all stressed and if there is a crisis and a child cuts themselves or speaks loudly about suicide, then you go to the emergency room.

“The second piece is about how sick children are when they finally show up,” she continued. “Some of these behavioral states respond really well to structure, and when the structure is pulled away from under you it makes your mental health worse too.”

In addition, many young people have previously escaped problems at home by doing outdoor activities.

“I think we’ll look at the long-term effects (of the pandemic) in the years to come,” predicted Knight. “Certainly the stress for the families, the isolation. Many children, who may have stressful private lives, had an opportunity in school, had access to teachers and coaches, or had after-school activities that kept them busy. ”

“They were taken out of these situations, stuck at home at a time when their social development is really alive. That stressed her very much. ”

And Knight warns that a return to “normal” this fall could make things even worse for some young people.

“We usually see an increase in mental illness at the start of school. And when many of these children have not gone to school or participated in structured activities for over a year, it is a sort of re-entry process that causes stress. ”

Although there were some national funding for mental health services, Knight said most of it was for adults. To try to help the younger generation, the legislature called “Strengthen children’s mental health now” is being proposed. It offers better access, greater capacity and longer term treatment for children.

Some children with significant mental health problems take part in the 2021 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Week. you will be in conversation with local legislators about the need for legislation.

However, Knight believes that the need to focus on these mental health issues shouldn’t just lie with the children, their families, or the hospitals treating them – it rests with everyone.

“What we can do as a society is one thing, talk about it, it’s like our physical health in many ways, but most importantly, our children start connecting with them and hearing them. The confirmation of feelings contributes significantly to supporting the emotional development of a person. ”

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