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The pandemic has pushed children's mental health and access to care to a 'crisis point'

July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.5%. 1 min read.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Bailey Lynn and her friends often talked about the toll the virus has taken. Still, the high school senior was surprised recently by the results of a survey she created to assess her classmates' mental health during the pandemic: Only a quarter who said they thought they needed a therapist had access to one.

Several children's hospitals said the supply of inpatient psychiatric beds has been so short, they've had to board kids in their emergency departments -- sometimes for weeks.

It got so bad, Children's Hospital Colorado declared a "state of emergency" in May. Glover said the number of kids they treated for anxiety doubled -- and depression numbers tripled -- compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In January, Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, for example, said it saw a 300% increase in the number of behavioral health emergency admissions since April 2020.

From April to October 2020, hospitals around the country saw a 31% increase in 12- to 17-year-old kids seeking help for their mental health, and a 24% increase for kids ages 5 to 11.

Colleague Dr. John Walkup, chair of the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the hospital, said the pandemic exacerbated access problems that have been around for awhile.

Many of the kids his hospital treats in the emergency department had a mental health problem that was never diagnosed, or was inadequately treated before the pandemic.

In Colorado, the mismatch of supply and demand for additional inpatient psychiatric beds is unmatched in pre-pandemic times, said Zach Zaslow, the senior director of government affairs at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Zaslow said after Children's Hospital in Colorado declared a state of emergency, there was bipartisan recognition about issues of access.

In addition to being on the youth board for Children's Hospital Colorado, the hospital has helped her with her own mental health long before the pandemic.

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