Pediatric Mental Health Crisis in America
In 2021, amid the chaos of the pandemic, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency. The cause for the emergency: pediatric mental health.
It is widely known that mental health disorders are a growing issue in America, especially among our youth. The mental health needs of our community are widely underserved, with insufficient providers compared to the number of people needing help.
In the event of an emergency, parents and caregivers often take children to the Emergency Department (ED). Their kids need help quickly, and the ED is the fastest path toward feeling better. But feeling better is only temporary; most return within six months unless they receive the desperately needed continued care. A new study in the journal Pediatrics found that less than one-third of children seen in the Emergency Department receive follow-up care after leaving the hospital.
Unless there is established care with a mental health provider, it can take weeks, or sometimes months, to begin care. That is too long. Primary care providers like the Rainbow Pediatrics team can support you and your child during this difficult time by making necessary referrals and recommendations. However, we are not a replacement for mental health care. There are things parents and caregivers can do to help their child or teen who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue.
- Talk with them. Open communication is critical to understanding struggles and feelings. Kids should be allowed to express their feelings without judgment or ridicule. Don’t downplay what they are going through. Be there, ready to listen.
- Talk with us. As mentioned, we are here to support you and your child. If you have concerns, we want to know.
- Recognize changes in their attitude or behavior. Behavioral changes are not uncommon. However, some red flags to be on the lookout for include agitation and irritability (more usual), drastic changes in grades or their willingness to try, and social changes (for example, your typical social child becomes reclusive). If you recognize any of these behavioral changes, talk with them and talk with us so we can help you.
- Call 911 in the event of an emergency. If you ever feel like your child’s life or that of another is in danger, do not hesitate to call 911 or visit your local ED.
You can find more tips on supporting your child’s mental health here. More schools are adopting mental health days for students in light of the growing mental health crisis. In North Carolina, Cumberland county has designated November 12th as a mental health day.
Your child or teen’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. If they struggle with stress and other concerns, it can impact their overall health, putting them at a greater risk of getting sick. Let us help you and your child get on the path toward feeling optimistic about life. Schedule an appointment with their pediatric provider today.