Emergency Department sees increase of mental health issues among children

Health

SPPINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Biden-Harris Administration announced to improve access and care for mental health and substance use in children ages 5 to 7.

According to data released from The White House, emergency department visits for mental health have increased in 2020, with children experiencing moderate to severe anxiety and depression. An increase of 24 percent for children ages 5 through 11, and a more than a 30 percent increase in visits for those between 12 and 17 years old.

22News spoke with Anhdao Zabarsky from Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative at CHD about kids here in western Massachusetts, “There’s definitely more need within the community. We are seeing an increase in referrals, we’re getting referrals from many different providers including local crisis, primary care providers, schools, and state agencies.”

With rising rates of youth mental health concerns and suicide rising, it is more important than ever for parents to have an open dialogue with their children about how they are and provide resources. In an effort to ensuring access to affordable health care, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide coverage for mental health and substance use conditions, including services provided at school.

Center for Human Development (CHD) is a nonprofit organization that offers programs and services throughout western Massachusetts to families impacted by behavioral health needs.

Anhdao Zabarsky, assistant program director of the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative at the Center for Human Development (CHD) in Springfield, said she has seen a dramatic increase of mental health issues among children and youth even before COVID-19 hit.

“Prior to the pandemic, the prevalence of mental illness among children and young adults was increasing,” she said. “But COVID-19 dramatically exacerbated the problem. More and more children and adolescents have needed our In Home Therapy and Therapeutic Mentoring services. Still, the pandemic has taken a serious toll on top of existing challenges,” she said. “It’s concerning. The silver lining in all this is that young people’s mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves. I’m glad this is being treated as a national emergency—because it is.” Anhdao Zabarsky, assistant program director of the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative at the Center for Human Development (CHD) in Springfield.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing approximately $190 million in behavioral health services for youth to ensure access to affordable health care, investing in community-based youth mental health, substance use care, increasing school-based behavioral health support, and improving in youth mental health and substance use prevention and treatment

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