A study in the April 2019 issue of Pediatrics shows
that there has been a significant increase in psychiatric emergency department
visits for children and young adults. The study, “Trends in Psychiatric Emergency Department Visits Among Youth and Young Adults in the US,” (published
online March 18) looked at emergency department visits between 2011 and 2015.
The researchers found that overall psychiatric visits have increased 28 percent
among children and young adults, ages 6 to 24 years of age, during that time.
The largest increases occurred among teens, young adults and non-white youths. Among adolescents, a very large increase in suicide-related
visits, almost 2.5 times greater in 2015 compared to 2011, was found. Visits
to the emergency department for mental health reasons were extremely long, more
than half were 3 hours or longer. Despite the length of these visits, only 16
percent of patients saw a mental health specialist. When the visits were for
suicide or self-harm, only 36 percent saw a mental health professional. The
authors state the lack of mental health providers in the emergency department
reflect missed opportunities for treatment planning. Study authors believe the
findings reflect the need for greater staff with mental health experience in
emergency departments and greater research into alternative evaluation and
treatment models for acute care outside of the emergency department.
Editor’s note: A related commentary, “The Increasing Burden of Psychiatric Emergencies: A Call to Action” will also be published inthis issue of Pediatrics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds