Growing concern for youth mental health in Utah amid national emergency

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A national emergency has been declared as mental health issues skyrocket among children and teens, and those issues are even more serious here in Utah.

The declaration of a national emergency came from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. It is a wake-up call to parents, caregivers, teachers and government at all levels.

“75% of all mental disorders begin between the ages of 10 and 24,” said Mark Rapaport, CEO of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.

Rapaport said that in this age group, nationwide, suicide is the number two killer.

“But he’s number one in Utah. The leading cause of death among young people is suicide in this condition. “

Utah has had its own mental health crisis for years, but the pandemic intensified the problem. Children were isolated, lacked socialization, the boundaries of work and home disappeared. Many children have seen their family structure change.

“In some cases, tragically, children have lost whoever is their primary caregiver, their secondary caregiver. Over 140,000 children have gone through this, ”he said.

Across Utah, Rapaport has seen more children come to the ER and more use the SafeUT crisis app. He said their problems are getting more complex.

“Whether it’s food insecurity, financial insecurity, real fighting within households, and even sometimes violence within households.

MORE: How You Can Help Prevent Suicide, Warning Signs To Watch For And Listen To

He has said without a doubt that more children and adolescents in Utah are suffering and at serious risk.

Understanding the problem is the first step, but it can be difficult to know when a child’s behavior is normal or when something serious is starting.

On Tuesday morning’s “Eye on Utah” show, a Utah psychiatrist talks about what he sees and signs to look for in teens and young children.

The declaration of national emergency in its entirety:

A statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Association of Children’s Hospitals:

As healthcare professionals dedicated to the care of children and adolescents, we have witnessed a surge in mental health issues among children, adolescents and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating the situation that existed before the pandemic. Children and families across our country have experienced tremendous adversity and turmoil. The inequalities that result from structural racism have contributed to disproportionate impacts on children from communities of color.

This worsening child and adolescent mental health crisis is inextricably linked to the stress caused by COVID-19 and the ongoing fight for racial justice, and represents an acceleration of trends seen before 2020. Rates of health problems Mental and suicide rates among children increased steadily between 2010 and 2020, and in 2018, suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24. The pandemic has intensified this crisis: Across the country, we have seen a dramatic increase in emergency room visits for all mental health emergencies, including suspected suicide attempts.

The pandemic has hit the security and stability of families. In the United States, more than 140,000 children have lost a primary and / or secondary guardian, with youth of color disproportionately affected. We care for young people suffering from increasing rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness and suicide that will have lasting effects on them, their families and their communities. We need to identify strategies to meet these challenges through innovation and action, using state, local and national approaches to improve access and quality of care across the continuum of promotion, prevention and treatment. mental health.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) are joining together to declare a national state of emergency for mental health. children. The challenges facing children and adolescents are so pervasive that we call on policy makers at all levels of government and advocates for children and adolescents to join us in this declaration and advocate for the following:

  • Increase federal funding to ensure that all families and children, from infancy through adolescence, can access evidence-based screening, diagnosis and treatment to appropriately meet their HIV needs mental health, with particular emphasis on meeting the needs of disadvantaged populations.
  • Address regulatory challenges and improve access to technology to ensure continued availability of telemedicine to provide mental health care to all populations.
  • Increase the implementation and sustainable funding of effective models of school-based mental health care, including clinical strategies and payment models.
  • Accelerate the adoption of effective and financially sustainable models of integrated pediatric primary care mental health care, including clinical strategies and payment models.
  • Strengthen emerging efforts to reduce the risk of suicide among children and adolescents through prevention programs in schools, primary care and community settings.
  • Address the ongoing challenges of the acute care needs of children and adolescents, including the shortage of emergency beds and accommodation, by expanding access to inpatient unit reduction programs, short-term stabilization units and community response teams.
  • Fully fund comprehensive community-based care systems that connect families in need of behavioral health and support services for their child with evidence-based interventions at home, community or school.
  • Promote and pay for trauma-informed care services that support relationship health and family resilience.
  • Accelerate strategies to address the long-standing challenges of the children’s mental health workforce, including innovative training programs, loan repayments, and intensified efforts to recruit under-represented populations in the professions. mental health as well as the attention given to the impact that the public health crisis has had on the well-being of health professionals.
  • Advance policies that ensure compliance with and enforcement of gender parity laws in mental health.


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