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US ERs increasingly seeing more teens seeking help for mental health disorders
Aug 23 2019

US ERs increasingly seeing more teens seeking help for mental health disorders

Mental Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 50 percent of the mental health disorders start manifesting by 14 years of age, however, in majority of the cases, these disorders go undiagnosed or untreated. The repercussions of not addressing adolescent or teen mental illnesses can be serious, extending into adulthood, impacting both the mental and physical health of an individual. As awareness about mental disorders is increasing, more and more people, including teens, are reaching out for help. A recent research revealed that between 2011 and 2015, the emergency departments (ED) in the U.S. saw a 28 percent increase in Americans in the age group of 6 to 24 looking for psychiatric assistance.

Lead author, Dr. Luther Kalb was not surprised by this trend and said that the growing suicide rate and opioid epidemic are some of the contributing factors for this. As per the statistics shared by WHO, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens aged between 15 to 19. Since the EDs are the first place where teens reach out for help in the case of drug overdoses, care providers here are in a position to identify such patients and enquire about any kind of pediatric mental health issues, thereby facilitating increased detection. Also, in a lot of cases, the parents of teens are more likely to report mental health symptoms in their kids.

Dr. Kalb also observed a surge in the usage of outpatient mental health services among teenagers in the U.S. According to him, this is not very helpful as oftentimes, the professionals might refer a teen to an ED, especially in times of a crisis.

What did the trend analysis reveal?

The constant presence of social media in the lives of teens may be playing a key role in increasing depression amongst them. However, Dr. Kalb stressed that it is not known for sure if social media has a key role to play in this increasing trend of ED usage by teens. According to the analysis, in 2011, there were around 31 psychiatric-related visits to the ER for every 1,000 Americans in the age group of 6 to 24, which by 2015, swelled to more than 40.

Certain ethnic groups, such as the African-Americans, witnessed a 54 percent increase in this number especially among adolescents. Further, in the case of Hispanics, it increased to more than 90 percent. During the time frame of this study, visits by adolescents susceptible to suicide risk seemed to increase more than double among all racial groups.

The researchers observed that even though the ER visits were lengthy, only around 16 percent of teens were ever consulted by a mental health professional during the visit. This figure increased to 36 percent in case of those teens who were seeking care in the ED for either suicide or in cases of self-harm. While all these teens saw a physician, only a few of them consulted a mental health provider. Also, not all ER providers have mental health training and a lot of rural and community hospitals lack the required resources.

Reasons behind the trend

According to co-author, Dr. Susan Duffy , a professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, some of the factors contributing to this increasing trend may include violence, child and parental substance abuse, poverty, influence of social media on isolation, depression, and anxiety, expanded insurance coverage, lack of mental health training and screening expertise among primary care providers, and information overload.

Dr. Duffy stated that irrespective of which of these factors were the most relevant, research indicated that more than 20 percent of U.S. teens in the age group of 13 to 18 had experienced some or the other form of mental health disorder. She further said that for the last one decade this trend has been rising and there has been a lack of resources to address this increasing need for care.

Dr. Kalb feels that this trend can be changed by increasing mental health staff in EDs, cross-training emergency care providers, and utilizing updated technologies such as tele-psychiatry.

Teen mental health treatment at Adeona Healthcare

If you know a teen suffering from any kind of teen mental health issues, feel free to reach out to Adeona Healthcare. Our facility, offers comprehensive behavioral treatment programs for mental disorders and related issues for adolescents aged 12 to 17. The facility offers a combination of individual and group therapies significant for successful treatment and recovery from such debilitating disorders.

Adeona Healthcare offers effective treatment strategies and a comfortable environment to help teens recover faster from various teen mental health related issues. To know more about our teen mental health treatment center, call our 24/7 helpline 888-379-9360 and speak with a representative from the admissions team. You can also chat online for further assistance.