MONDAY, May 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — From 2007 to 2016, pediatric emergency department visits remained stable, but visits for all mental health disorders increased 60 percent, according to a study published online May 11 in Pediatrics.

Charmaine B. Lo, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues used 2007 to 2016 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample databases to examine the number of emergency department visits made by children (5 to 17 years) with a mental health disorder.

The researchers found that overall, pediatric emergency department visits were stable; however, there were increases in visits for deliberate self-harm (329 percent increase) and for all mental health disorders (60 percent increase). There was a 159 percent increase noted in visits for children with a substance use disorder, while a 39 percent decrease was seen in alcohol-related disorders. The increased visits occurred in emergency departments of all pediatric volume, regardless of ED classification. The investigators also observed increases of 53 and 41 percent in visits to low-pediatric-volume and nonmetropolitan areas, respectively.

“To serve the rising demand for emergency mental health services, every emergency department across the country must do the hard work required to be ready to provide high-quality mental health care for each child who walks through its doors,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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