We are in a time of societal crisis that is strongly impacting our children and families. The degree of pathology child and adolescent psychiatrists are seeing at all levels of care demands immediate attention to protect our children. The American Psychiatric Association, and its member psychiatrists together with the larger child and mental health community, are sounding the alarm for our kids’ mental health.

The worsening of youth mental health appears to be correlated to the detrimental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Since the onset of the pandemic, suspected suicide attempts among adolescent girls are up more than 50 percent, emergency room visits among young children (aged 5-11 years old) have increased 24 percent, and emergency room visits among teenagers are up 31 percent. These changes are possibly related to poor coping skills to mitigate COVID-19 related stressors and the disruption of daily life routine. However, the U.S. healthcare system is currently poorly prepared to address the increase in mental health demands and the severity of cases.

Furthermore, minority youth are facing additional stressors as underrepresented communities experienced worsened healthcare outcomes as evidenced by disproportionate COVID-19 infection rates, mortality, and economic downturns.

We can take action to address this pandemic in a number of ways, including:

  • Incorporating mental health assessment and care in educational systems across the country;
  • Increasing awareness about mental health crises among children and families in underserved and underprivileged areas;
  • Improving access to telepsychiatry, particularly in areas with limited access to resources;
  • Supporting and advancing the integration of mental health care among primary care and pediatrics through collaborative and integrative care models;
  • Supporting ongoing efforts to address suicide crisis and safety measures among children and adolescents; and
  • Supporting increased recruitment into psychiatry residencies and child and adolescent training.

Read the full article about children's mental health pandemic by Jacques Ambrose, Rana Elmaghraby, Stephanie Garayalde at InsideSources.