A national emergency concerning the state of children and adolescent mental health was declared by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) in late October.
These groups are warning that the rates of mental illness and suicide in children have steadily risen since 2010. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents, and there has been a dramatic increase in mental health-related emergency room visits for kids as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these visits increased by 24% for children aged 5-11 and 31% for children aged 12-17 just between March and October of 2020. Emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts in girls aged 12-17 have risen 51% since 2019.
Experts believe the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and racial unrest have contributed to the steady increase in mental health issues in children, and are calling on policymakers to advocate for children in the following ways:
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