The increase comes as in-person school hours have been drastically reduced to stem the spread of COVID-19, limiting children’s interactions with their peers and teachers. Additionally, sports and extracurricular activities have been restricted or canceled – conditions that could isolate children at home and cause anxiety, depression, lack of sleep and poor eating habits.
The CDC analyzed hospital data from 47 states accounting for about 75% of emergency room visits nationwide. One in 85 pediatric visits was related to mental health from March to October in 2019, up from one in 60 in 2020.
The average number of weekly visits to pediatric emergency departments was 262,714 during the same period of March to October in 2019 and 3,078 visits related to mental health. However, over a comparable period in 2020, the analysis found a weekly average of 149,055 visits, including 2,481 visits related to mental health.
Researchers noted that reduced access to institutions like schools and community clinics may have left parents and children increasingly dependent on emergency rooms for these services.
“Ensuring the availability and access to developmentally appropriate mental health services for children outside of the in-person emergency setting will be important as communities adjust mitigation strategies. Implementing technology-based remote mental health services and prevention activities to enhance children’s healthy adjustment and resilience could effectively support their well-being throughout periods of intervention and recovery. », Indicates the analysis.
“The CDC supports efforts to promote the emotional well-being of children and families and provides developmentally appropriate resources for families to reduce stressors that could contribute to emergency room visits related to mental health. children, ”he continues.
The CDC also noted that the number of emergency room visits was higher among girls than boys.