In a joint effort, the Children’s Hospital Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry earlier this fall launched a targeted campaign called Sound the Alarm for Kids: A National Mental Health Emergency. The purpose of the campaign is to mobilize child advocates across the country to call upon their members of Congress to take immediate action by funding emergency, preventative, wraparound services and treatment to stem the escalating children’s mental health crisis.
Parents, caregivers, and children have experienced tremendous stress driven by disruptions in daily routines, social isolation, financial insecurity and grief. The depth of the mental health crisis among children and teens is staggering, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated it:
- Before the pandemic, 1 in 5 children experienced a mental health condition on an annual basis, yet 80% of children did not receive assessment and treatment services for their mental health concern.
- From 2007 to 2018, there was a 60% increase in the rate of suicide among 10-to-24-year-olds, making it the second leading cause of death for this age group.
- Nationally, Children’s Hospitals saw a 45% increase in behavioral health Emergency Department visits for children ages 5 to 17 when comparing 2019 to 2020 data.
- More than half of the adults with children (53%) in their household say they are concerned about the mental state of their children.
- 15 million children and teens nationwide are in need of care from mental health professionals, but there are significant shortages in many mental health professions.
The stress of this crisis puts an already-strapped health care system at greater risk and could needlessly deplete critical points of access for mental health services. An effective response to the children’s mental health crisis must include state and local action as well. In Iowa, Blank Children’s Hospital, ChildServe, and University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital have signed on to the call to action.
For more information, please contact Chaney Yeast, Director of Government Relations & Family Services, Blank Children’s Hospital.