COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) held a news conference Thursday to address COVID-19 and youth behavioral health.
ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, was joined by Joseph Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth’s medical director of Infectious Diseases and Mary Beth DeWitt, PhD., chief of child psychology at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Children’s Hospital Association recently declared a national mental health emergency.
Doctors say there has been a significant increase in emergency room visits for mental health emergency services.
“Children’s mental health suffers. Young people have endured so much during this pandemic and while much attention is often paid to the physical health implications, we cannot overlook the escalating mental health crisis facing our patients,” said AAP Chairman Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP.
According to AAP, between March and October 2020, the rate of emergency room visits for children with mental health problems increased by 24 percent for children ages 5-11 and 31 percent for children ages 12-17.
There was also a more than 50 percent increase in emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts among girls aged 12-17 in early 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.
“We care for young people with high levels of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness and suicidality that will have lasting effects on them, their families, their communities and all of our future,” said AACAP President, Gabrielle A. Carlson, MD .
In addition, many young people are affected by the loss of a loved one. Data shows that more than 140,000 children in the US have experienced the death of a primary or secondary caregiver during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Rising cases of COVID-19 across all age groups – Dr. Vanderhoff
- More than 6300 cases reported on Wednesday
- “More people are getting sick and more are being hospitalized.” – dr. Vanderhoff
- 2,868 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ohio (16% increase in 7 days)
- 810 people are in intensive care with COVID-19 in Ohio (18% increase in 7 days)
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