KARA advocates for the people, policies and programs
that improve the lives of abused and neglected children.
COVID is Hammering Children’s Mental Health
From the CDC; “From April to October 2020, hospitals across the U.S. saw a 24% increase in mental health emergency visits for children ages 5 to 11, and a 31% increase for ages 12 to 17 and yes, mental health emergency visits include suicide attempts.”
Also from the CDC article, “It is now the job of every parent, educator, and caregiver to help mitigate the long-term consequences of the trauma kids are living through. During my many years as a teacher, I saw first-hand how a child’s mental health impacts their ability to learn and grow — not only in the classroom, but in life.”
“The increased demand for intensive mental health care that has accompanied the pandemic has worsened issues that have long plagued the system. In some hospitals, the number of children unable to immediately get a bed in the psychiatric unit rose. Others reduced the number of beds or closed psychiatric units altogether to reduce the spread of covid-19” (Medscape January 7, 2021)
Over 1 million children under 6 are prescribed psychiatric drugs in America today. In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old’s were on Prozac like drugs & *Johnson & Johnson was fined billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children…
The child psychiatrist working my child protection cases had hundreds of State Ward kids to watch over and no way to provide a consistent presence or adequate safety program to her clients. Not her fault. It’s all about how this community values other peoples children.
20 years later, we are stuffing suicidal children overnight in emergency room beds because there are not enough mental health beds and staff to deal with them (and we wonder why kids cut themselves, stab schoolmates, punch teachers and attempt suicide). Suicide rates in Anoka County almost doubled from 1999 to 2015.
There are 1000 emergency psychiatric visits monthly at Hennepin Healthcare many of them children (a single metro hospital).
Multiple mental health facility closures at MN’s rural hospitals, hospitals turning away mental health patients , dysfunctional group homes, communities refusing to allow mental health group homes and services in the neighborhood are exacerbating already serious troubleq we have facing this crisis.
These MPR short stories clearly articulate the sadness families face dealing with mental health crisis in my state of Minnesota.
It’s time we embraced the problem with the intention of solving it.
Here are some ideas from the CDC article above;
States must create their own roadmaps for success. Fortunately, there are models to serve as guides. For example, New Jersey’s “Road Forward” initiative provides $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds to school districts across the state for students and educators. This includes a $30 million mental health grant that will help school districts facilitate services and invest resources in a way that will best serve the unique needs of their community.
Our federal government has a role to play as well. Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) introduced the Mental Health Services for Students Act, which would create a $200 million grant program to fund mental health services in schools. If signed into law, this would be a major step in the right direction.
- Treatment Planning and Medication Monitoring Were Lacking for Children in Foster Care Receiving Psychotropic Medication, by the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, September 17, 2018.
- Psychotherapy v. Medications: Let us Court the Ways, National Alliance of Professional Psychological Providers, Feb, 2017, Vol 12 No. 2.
- Opinion: Misguided mental health system needs an overhaul, by Jim Gottstein, January 13, 2016, Alaska Dispatch News.
- Escape from British Columbia, Rob Wipond, Focus, November-December, 2016.
- The Case Against Antipsychotics: A Review of Their Long-term Effects, by Robert Whitaker, Mad In America Foundation, July, 2016.
- Open dialogues in the present and the future – new developments, byJaakko SeikkulaMay 13, 2016.
- The Search for Schizophrenia Genes: Larger and larger samples are showing smaller and smaller effect sizes. What does this mean for drug development, clinical practice, and our view of mental illness? by Jonathan Leo, Slate, February 5, 2016.
- PsychRights and Committee for Truth in Psychiatry submission to FDA opposing reclassification of electroshock machines, March 25, 2016.In search of an evidence-based role for psychiatry, by John Read, Olga Runciman, & Jacqui Dillon, Future Science, February 22, 2016 (online).
- Soldiers Of The Iraq/Afghanistan Era Dead Of Sudden Cardiac Death Probably Due To Prescription Antipsychotic & Other Psychotropic Drugs, by Fred A. Baughman, Jr., MD, Presented at the 22nd Annual Combat Stress Conference May 1-3, 2015 Carlsbad, CA.
- Drugging Our Kids: Children in California’s foster care system are prescribed unproven, risky medications at alarming rates, story by Karen De Sa, San Jose Mercury News, August 25, 2014.
- Feds Pay for Drug Fraud: 92 Percent of Foster Care, Poor Kids Prescribed Antipsychotics Get Them for Unaccepted Uses, by Art Levine, Huffington Post, April 30,2015.
- Letter From Nine Mental Health Experts To Funders And Ethics Committee About Ketamine + Electroshock Therapy Study, John Read Blog, June 21, 2014.
- Revisiting a debate: Does psychiatry overmedicate? by Stacey Burling, The Philadelphia Enquirer, April 10, 2014.
- The Drugging of the American Boy, Esquire, by Ryan D’Agostino, March 27, 2014.
- Department of Justice letter stating askin about psychiatric diagnosis on bar application violates federal law, January 21 2014.
- Barry Pollack letter to the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health regarding the abuses by Boston Children’s Hospital at its Bader 5 psychiatric ward, December 21, 2013.
By 2017 more than 13% of 12 to 25 year old Americans had symptoms consistent with an episode of major depression in the previous year – a 62% increase in 8 years. COVID is making this much worse today.