Children and teenagers made a significant increase in emergency room visits related to mental health during the pandemic.
Although there have been improvements, according to new research from the CDC, poor mental health is still a “significant public health concern,” especially for teenage females.
Researchers from the CDC monitored the number of teenagers aged 12 to 17 who visited the emergency room on average once per week for nine distinct mental health disorders, drug overdoses, and other behaviors associated with suicide.
The average number of emergency room visits for mental health issues, suicide-related behaviors, and drug overdoses was at least 10 percent fewer by the fall of 2022 than they were exactly a year earlier in 2021.
The number of teen girls visiting emergency rooms for mental health and behavioral issues, notwithstanding the drop, remained at or exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, rates among teenage girls continued to be much higher than those among adolescent boys.
Teenage girls received over 4,000 visits for mental health issues in the fall of 2022, compared to roughly 2,400 visits for teen guys.
Teenage girls were nearly 4 times as likely than teenage boys to report making suicide attempts, for instance.
Drug overdose emergency room visits also increased compared to levels from 2019.
According to the CDC analysis, overdoses involving opioids in particular jumped 27 percent between the fall of 2021 and the fall of 2022, with larger increases among teen boys.
For years, health professionals have raised concerns about the mental health of young people.
According to a survey published by the CDC in February, teenage girls have recently experienced historically high levels of violence, depression, and suicide risk.
Dr. Debra Houry said at the time that “America’s teen girls are engulfed in a growing wave of sadness, violence and trauma.”
She did note that many issues with mental health may be avoided.
According to CDC researchers, returning to school and other public settings that were more like those present before the pandemic may have made teenagers feel less alone and more involved.
However, continued initiatives are required to help young people’s mental health, including “evidence-based, comprehensive preventive measures,” such as the 988 suicide crisis line as well as having access to telehealth alternatives, as well as “early condition detection and trauma informed therapies.”