“National emergency” declared in children’s mental health


Several large pediatric health organizations – the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the Children’s Hospital Association – have declared a national children’s mental health emergency.

ABC Action News spoke to two mental health experts in the Tampa Bay area to get a better idea of ​​how we got here and what it means for kids.

Dr. Jennifer Katzenstein is Co-Director of the Center for Behavioral Health at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. She said experts were concerned about children’s mental health before the pandemic and now the situation is much worse.

“As we continue to navigate the pandemic, we continue to see our children’s toll of increased stress and anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide,” said the Dr Katzenstein.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mental health emergency room visits increased by 24% for children aged 5 to 11 and by 31% for children aged 12 to 17 between March and October 2020 The main pediatric medical associations are now calling on policy makers to increase federal funding for mental health services, among other measures to address this crisis.

Dr Brandon Deliberato is Baycare’s medical director for child psychiatry and he explained that additional funding could help expand telehealth coverage, access to care, trauma services, more home and wrap-around care. and services related to substance use. Both mental health experts said parents need to pay attention to their children’s habits.

“As a parent, what you are looking for is… how is your child doing in school? How do they interact with other adults and their peers? Are they eating? Are they sleeping? basic overall? ”says Dr. Deliberato.

“One of the great things you can do as a parent is first – tell me about your day. Let’s not make it a question. Let’s make it an answer. Tell me how you feel,” a said Dr Katzenstein.

They said that now more than ever, leaders and the community need to put mental health first and increase resources and access to care.

Watch the full interview with Dr. Katzenstein below:

Interview with Dr. Katzenstein on Children’s Mental Health

Click here for the American Academy of Pediatrics report.