01 December 2021
Health care providers across the state have reported a sharp increase in the number of patients who report having mental health issues ranging from depression and anxiety to eating disorders to suicidal thoughts. No group, they say, is more affected than children.
Emergency rooms are reporting a double-digit increase in the number of children with mental health or behavioral issues. Nationally, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between April and October 2020, there was a 24% increase in mental health emergency room visits for children aged 5 to 11 compared to at the same period in 2019.
With these alarming numbers, Connecticut lawmakers recently held forums with behavioral health professionals, state agencies, and children’s experts to discuss what’s going on and how to improve it.
“This is a proactive approach. No child should have to be in crisis to access help, ”said Dr Javeed Sukhera, chair of psychiatry at the Institute of Living at Hartford HealthCare and chief of psychiatry at Hartford Hospital.
“Early intervention is so important in mental health, but we’ve designed systems a little backwards. This is an opportunity for us to make a difference, ”said Dr Sukhera. “By working together, we can create a coordinated behavioral health system that focuses on those we serve. This requires that we involve patients and caregivers from the start of the process in order not only to amplify their voices, but also to enable them to help us co-design initiatives. People with experience in mental health can help us create a better system of care that gives people the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time.
The Co-Chairs of the Children’s Committee, Representative Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, and Senator Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor, said they are considering legislation that would increase the number of training programs for social workers and psychiatrists , looking at medium- and long-term plans to ensure psychiatrists are paid fairly and consider ways to improve reimbursement rates, according to a report on NPR.
They will also examine the connectivity between pediatrician offices and mental health care providers, as well as ways to improve access to mental health, a referral program that pediatricians can use if they are presented with a problem. child with mental health symptoms they don’t think they have. the specialty to be managed.
The Connecticut Hospital Association worked with lawmakers on measures that would expand outpatient services in communities and resources in schools to help avoid the need for an emergency department visit or so they can continue. to receive the appropriate level of care once they are discharged. .