WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The proportion of pediatric emergency department visits for mental health increased from 2011 to 2020 among children, adolescents, and young adults, according to a study published in the May 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tanner J. Bommersbach, M.D., M.P.H., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues estimated annual trends in mental health-related emergency department visits among U.S. children, adolescents, and young adults (aged 6 to 24 years) between 2011 and 2020 using data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

The researchers found that the weighted number of pediatric mental health-related visits increased from 4.8 million to 7.5 million (7.7 to 13.1 percent of all pediatric emergency department visits), with an average annual percent change of 8.0 percent. Among children, adolescents, and young adults, significant linearly increasing trends were observed, with the greatest increase seen among adolescents and across sex and race/ethnicity. Increases were seen in all types of mental health-related visits, while the greatest increase was seen in suicide-related visits, which increased from 0.9 to 4.2 percent of all pediatric emergency department visits (average annual percent change, 23.1 percent).

“With the recent increase in demand for emergency mental health services by young people and lack of growth in outpatient mental health services, a dedicated national commitment will be needed to address gaps and deficiencies in mental health outpatient and crisis services for children, adolescents, and young adults,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the publishing industry.

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