UMC reports spike in emergency room visits for child mental health

What to do if you see signs of mental health problems in children

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - CDC saw child mental health emergency room visits increase in 2020. UMC saw a local increase as well.

From March to October, the CDC reported U.S. hospital emergency rooms saw a 24 percent increase of 5 to 11-year-olds for mental health visits and a 31 percent increase for 12 to 17-year-olds.

Numbers here in Lubbock also increased in 2020, according to Dr. Brian Payne, the Chief Medical Officer of UMC Children’s Hospital.

“It does seem to be more severe when people were more isolated. As people are able to figure out how to isolate or interact safer by using masks and things like that, and interact more through school, it has made things better for children,” Dr. Payne said.

Anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation were among the many symptoms and complaints.

Payne says this isolation comes with loss of routine or maybe not seeing peers as much. UMC hospital staff are also seeing this uptick in suicidal ideation.

“People are becoming aware that there are side effects of trying to decrease the spread of COVID-19 that are unintended but real.”

Payne says hospital staff anticipate these visits during stressful times and it’s not just COVID-19 that is impacting mental health. Holidays and new school years also contribute to anxiety, Payne said.

“We have seen an uptick in suicide attempts as well as overall younger people having suicidal ideation attempts as well. That’s a serious concern.”

He asks parents to look at their child and evaluate their own situation. He says if your child is depressed but not suicidal, then speak to their main doctor or psychologist. But if the child has done self-harm or has suicidal ideation, seek help like calling EMS or using a suicidal hotline.

The National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800- 273-8255

Other local resources include:

Star Care Mobile Outreach Team available 24/7: 806-740-1414 or 800-687-7581

Contact Lubbock Crisis Line: 806-765-8393

YAH (Youth America Hotline): 877-968-8454

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