WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Three major pediatric health care groups seeking increased federal action on children’s mental health.
Tuesday the The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association have declared a national children’s mental health emergency.
The groups said concerns about the mental health of young people have heightened during the pandemic.
“The need was already exploding, and then the pandemic happened, and it was really exponential,” said Dr. Susan Bray, associate professor of counseling at Wichita State University.
Children and adolescents are mentally impacted.
Dr Bray said: ‘Avoid others, and our social needs have not been met, and this has just created a perfect storm for mental health issues, especially in children and adolescents who are much more vulnerable. . “
Service providers see it.
“We have seen a lot more depression, a lot more anxiety and unfortunately a lot more suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts,” said COMCARE Director of Rehabilitation Services Shantel Westbrook, LMLP / LCP.
Westbrook of COMCARE said the impact has been felt in hospitals as well.
During wednesday Kansas Governor Safer Classrooms Task Force, they discussed the impact on youth mental health.
During the meeting, a pediatrician from Wesley discussed the high number they saw over the weekend in hospital for mental health emergencies, a number that has steadily increased during the pandemic.
Pediatrician Dr Stephanie Kulhmann said: “We arrived at the hospital on Monday for work, we were detaining ten teenage patients who needed to be placed after intentional injuries and suicides over the weekend. “
The CDC collected data and reported last year, between March and October, emergency department visits for mental health emergencies increased by about 25 percent for children aged 5 to 11 and by 31 percent for adolescents 12 to 17 years old.
They also discussed the federal COVID-19 relief funding that schools receive, and many districts are allocating these funds to meet the mental health needs of students.
This summer, the state of Wichita opened the WISE clinic in response to the need for mental health services in Wichita and to provide free counseling to those seeking care. This includes services for adults and adolescents. They also have play therapy for children.
Dr Susan Bray from Wichita State said it is important for parents to talk to their children about taking charge of their overall health, mental and physical, and to speak up if they notice anything. worrying.
“Everyone needs a little extra help from time to time, and it’s okay to ask for help,” said Dr Bray.
She added, “Show other signs of stress, share your observations with them and ask if they feel they might need extra help.”
Westbrook said having a conversation about mental health remains one of the most important first steps.
“The first thing is really not to be afraid to talk about it, to ask. How are you, what do you need, how can I help you, ”said Westbrook.
There are signs Westbrook has reported that could point to something that may need more attention.
Westbrook said, “Grades drop drastically, sleeping too little or too much. Friends have changed, not interested in activities.
The providers said the growing awareness of mental health is making a significant difference.
Westbrook said, “People are talking about it more; there are a lot more conversations. Stigma is drastically reduced.
“The rising generation today are much more likely to seek mental health services,” said Dr Bray.
The statement included several recommendations, including increased federal funding for youth mental health, increased support for school-based mental health programs, and the integration of mental health care into pediatric primary care.
In Kansas, a partnership between the KU School of Medicine-Wichita and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with the KSKidsMAP Program tries to fill this need for pediatricians. It enables primary care physicians and clinicians to access mental health services through telemedicine.
The pediatric mental health team can provide recommendations and resources. This service is designed to help meet needs in predominantly rural areas of the state without an easily accessible mental health provider.
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