Pediatricians, psychiatrists warn of mental health ’emergency’ for children
SALISBURY, Md. – The American Academy of Pediatrics,(AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) are declaring a crisis for the mental health of kids between the ages of 5 and 17.
They say kids in these groups have seen a sharp increase in mental health emergencies including those that require hospitals stays. Teen girls between the ages of 13-17 have also seen an increase in self-harming behavior, while younger children are having trouble adjusting to the school environment.
Local mental health care professionals say schools were a big source of mental health counseling, and a year and a half without those services meant many conditions were left untreated, as well as made worse by the isolation and stress of the pandemic.
“Much of mental health care is given in the schools and so without schools being open the easy access that children have to mental health care is interrupted it’s gone,” said Eastern Shore Psychological CEO Kathryn Seifert.
Seifert tells us that there needs to be extra attention paid to students, as a decline in mental health could impair their ability to learn and have lifelong consequences. She says that students need to know that “It’s Okay To Ask For Help”, an initiative Seifert has worked on to decrease the stigma around having mental health problems and taking advantage of services to help with them.
She says for communities like Delmarva, mental health services are already thin with more patients than available services further increasing the necessity and demand for counseling, therapy, and behavioral treatments offered through schools.
She hopes the federal government will follow the recommendation of the AAP and allocate federal funding to increase the amount of mental health staff members in schools to help make sure that demand for the services does not exceed the supply of those qualified and ready to help children take better control of their mental health.