Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children’s mental health. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, mounting challenges across the spectrum of childcare have deepened disparities in pediatric primary care and are particularly evident in racial and ethnic minority groups. At the same time, pandemic conditions have led many children to lose their caregivers and forced them into increased social isolation – all of which has culminated in a mental health crisis among the youngest of the population.
Current statistics reveal the urgency of the problem at hand. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency department visits for mental health emergencies rose by 24% in children aged between 5 and 11 years and by 31% in children aged between 12 and 17 years during March through October of 2020. In early 2021, emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts increased by 51% among girls aged between 12 and 17 years as compared to data from the same period in 2019.