Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
The number of children and young adults visiting the emergency department for psychiatric concerns rose 28 percent over a four-year period, and visits having to do with #suicide more than doubled, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.
The findings amplify concerns that the #mental-health care system is failing to meet the country’s needs, forcing people to rely on emergency rooms ill-equipped to deal with psychiatric concerns.
“If it’s a true crisis, the emergency department is really one of the only places we have,” said Luther Kalb, a coauthor of the study and assistant professor at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. “But it’s not the best place to get routine care.”
Researchers examined national data on emergency department (ED) visits between 2011 and 2015.
They found the growth in visits was largely driven by adolescents and youth of color, but they’re not sure why. It could reflect a greater prevalence of #mentalillness, or it could be the result of greater awareness leading people to seek help, Kalb said.
Researchers also found only 16 percent of patients in the ED for psychiatric concerns saw a #mental-health specialist. When the visits were for suicide or self-harm specifically, that number went up to just 37 percent.
“Even in a crisis, you’re not going to get the most qualified care there,” Kalb said.
Many EDs don’t have a psychologist or psychiatrist on staff, and there’s an overall shortage of #mental-health providers in the country.
A recent federally funded study found nearly a third of children ages 10 to 12 who were asked about #suicidal thoughts in the emergency room were identified as at-risk — including 7 percent of those who had gone to the ED for physical complaints only.
The study authors said their results show how important it is to screen kids as young as 10 for #suicide risk.
But in many EDs, this type of screening doesn’t happen, meaning youth with psychiatric concerns can go home without #mental-health care.
It also means the increase in psychiatric visits seen in recent years is an undercount. “When you actively screen for #mental-health problems in the ED, you’re going to get a much higher number,” Kalb said.
By the time individuals visit the ED for #mental-health concerns, they’re often in crisis, Kalb said.
People who don’t have insurance or cannot access #mental-health professionals turn to the ED as a safety net when situations get particularly bad. The ED is obligated to treat all patients regardless of time of day, insurance status, or financial means.
According to the study, 5 to 7 percent of all pediatric ED visits in the United States are related to #mentalhealth or substance abuse.
“It’s become the de facto provider for #mental-health crises,” Kalb said. “But it didn’t necessarily ask to take on that role.”
Kalb and his colleagues found more than half of all ED visits for #mentalhealth were longer than three hours. As the number of inpatient psychiatric beds has decreased in the last few decades, patients can wait days or even weeks to be admitted.
“They’re not safe to go home, so they’re stuck in this middle ground in the ED,” Kalb said.
Ideally, Kalb said, there should be emergency facilities for #mental-health care where patients can see a #mental-health professional 24/7, and get fast-tracked to inpatient treatment if needed.
Some behavioral crisis centers provide this type of service, but they’re rare. The cost and complexity of starting such centers are barriers, Kalb said.
Simpler ways to improve care include training more ED doctors in #mental-health response, from how to screen to what to do if someone is identified as high risk.
Another promising effort is the use of telemedicine to have #mental-health specialists consult on emergency cases even if they cannot be with the patient in the ED.