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Mental Health-Related ER Visits Are Becoming More Common For Children

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Mental Health-Related ER Visits Are Becoming More Common For Children
The number of children going to the ER for mental health concerns is rising — even more so for black and Latino children.
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The number of children visiting the ER for mental health issues is rising rapidly, according to new research.

Researchers at the Children's National Health System looked at patient information from 45 children's hospitals across the U.S. They found that from 2012 to 2016, the number of mental health-related visits increased from 50.4 per 100,000 kids to 78.5 per 100,000 kids. They also found higher rates of visits among black and Latino children.

"African-American children increased at 64 percent, which is pretty unbelievable. And then Hispanic youth, their rate of increase over this five-year period was 76 percent," Dr. Anna Abrams with Children’s National Health System told Newsy.

Lead researcher Dr. Anna Abrams says they still need to look at a second round of data to determine which mental health issues were most common with kids. She hopes these numbers will help experts better allocate resources in the ER so patients can get better treatment.

"When you're presenting to the emergency room with a mental health complaint, it's usually an exacerbation. And the emergency department is not the ideal setting for these kids," she says. "The environment in the emergency department is very fast-paced. There is always a lot of things happening at once and lots of medical complaints and emergencies. And mental health exacerbations, one of the things the children will need is a quiet place with less stimulation, and a lot of time with a provider."