Eating Disorders

Youth Emergency Division Visits for Psychological Well being Elevated Throughout Pandemic

Youth Emergency Division Visits for Psychological Well being Elevated Throughout Pandemic

July 19, 2023 • Analysis Spotlight

Hospital visits for psychological well being care elevated amongst kids and teenagers within the second yr of the COVID-19 pandemic, in accordance with a examine supported by the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being. Analyses of insurance coverage claims information for greater than 4.1 million kids confirmed an particularly notable improve in acute psychological well being care visits—together with emergency division visits—amongst teen women.

The examine was led by Lindsay Overhage , an M.D.-Ph.D. scholar at Harvard Medical Faculty, and Haiden Huskamp, Ph.D. , the Henry J. Kaiser Professor of Well being Coverage at Harvard Medical Faculty. Overhage, Huskamp, and colleagues examined nationwide, deidentified industrial medical health insurance claims for youth aged 5 to 17 years over the next intervals:

Baseline yr: March 2019 to February 2020

First yr of the pandemic: March 2020 to February 2021

Second yr of the pandemic: March 2021 to February 2022

The researchers outlined psychological health-related emergency division visits as visits by which a psychological well being situation was recorded as the first prognosis for the go to. They then sorted the diagnoses into classes, which included melancholy; suicidal ideation, suicide try, or self-injury; nervousness dysfunction; and consuming dysfunction. Visits with a major prognosis of substance use dysfunction weren’t included.

From these information, the researchers recognized 88,665 psychological health-related emergency division visits. Relative to the pre-pandemic baseline yr, the proportion of youth with a minimum of one psychological well being go to decreased by 17.3% within the first yr of the pandemic. In distinction, the proportion of youth with a psychological well being go to elevated by 6.7% within the second pandemic yr relative to the baseline yr. The proportion of youth with a number of visits in the identical yr remained related over time.

Additional analyses revealed notable variations in accordance with age and intercourse. Relative to baseline, psychological health-related emergency visits within the second yr of the pandemic elevated by 22.1% amongst teen women (aged 13 to 17), whereas these visits decreased by 15.0% amongst boys aged 5 to 12 and 9.0% amongst teen boys (aged 13 to 17).

The information additionally confirmed that women’ visits elevated significantly for particular diagnostic classes. For instance, amongst women, there was a 43.6% improve in visits for suicidal ideation, suicide try, or self-injury and a 120.4% improve in visits for consuming issues within the second yr of the pandemic. Amongst boys, psychological health-related visits decreased or stayed the identical throughout diagnostic classes in each pandemic years. The researchers notice that these findings are in line with different research indicating that the pandemic has taken a higher toll on women’ psychological well being.

Inpatient psychiatry admissions additionally elevated through the pandemic. After a psychological health-related emergency division go to, youth had been extra prone to be admitted for inpatient psychiatric care and stayed in inpatient psychiatric care longer in each pandemic years in comparison with the baseline yr.

Importantly, throughout each years of the pandemic, youth had been extra prone to spend two or extra nights in a medical unit ready to be admitted to a psychiatric unit, a observe the researchers name “extended boarding.” Relative to the baseline yr, extended boarding elevated by 27.1% within the first yr of the pandemic and 76.4% within the second yr of the pandemic. The rise within the second yr of the pandemic was particularly excessive (87.2%) amongst teenagers aged 13 to 17.

Based on the researchers, the rise in extended boarding could possibly be on account of two elements: elevated demand and diminished capability. In different phrases, extra kids wanted pressing psychological well being care, however there have been additionally fewer inpatient psychiatric beds and fewer certified workers to fulfill these wants. The researchers notice that this underscores the significance of increasing the capability of psychiatric companies for youth.

Though the examine targeted solely on youth with industrial insurance coverage, the findings make clear the broad want for applicable, responsive psychological well being care for kids and teenagers. The researchers counsel that educating and supporting major care suppliers in delivering psychological well being care may assist deal with youth psychological well being issues earlier than they require extra acute, hospital-based care. On the similar time, they notice that supporting current psychological well being care suppliers and growing the pipeline of certified workers are vital steps in addressing the supplier scarcity.


Overhage, L., Hailu, R., Busch, A. B., Mehotra, A., Michelson, Ok. A., & Huskamp, H. A. (2023). Tendencies in acute care use for psychological well being situations amongst youth through the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Psychiatry.


MH112829 , MH019733 , HS026503 , AG051108

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