NIMH » Youth Emergency Division Visits for Psychological Well being Elevated Throughout Pandemic

Analysis Spotlight

Hospital visits for psychological well being care elevated amongst kids and youths within the second 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, in keeping with a research supported by the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being. Analyses of insurance coverage claims information for greater than 4.1 million kids confirmed an particularly notable improve in acute psychological well being care visits—together with emergency division visits—amongst teen ladies.

The research was led by Lindsay Overhage , an M.D.-Ph.D. pupil at Harvard Medical College, and Haiden Huskamp, Ph.D. , the Henry J. Kaiser Professor of Well being Coverage at Harvard Medical College. Overhage, Huskamp, and colleagues examined nationwide, deidentified industrial medical insurance claims for youth aged 5 to 17 years over the next intervals:

  • Baseline 12 months: March 2019 to February 2020
  • First 12 months of the pandemic: March 2020 to February 2021
  • Second 12 months of the pandemic: March 2021 to February 2022

The researchers outlined psychological health-related emergency division visits as visits by which a psychological well being situation was recorded as the first prognosis for the go to. They then sorted the diagnoses into classes, which included melancholy; suicidal ideation, suicide try, or self-injury; anxiousness dysfunction; and consuming dysfunction. Visits with a major prognosis of substance use dysfunction weren’t included.

From these information, the researchers recognized 88,665 psychological health-related emergency division visits. Relative to the pre-pandemic baseline 12 months, the proportion of youth with no less than one psychological well being go to decreased by 17.3% within the first 12 months of the pandemic. In distinction, the proportion of youth with a psychological well being go to elevated by 6.7% within the second pandemic 12 months relative to the baseline 12 months. The proportion of youth with a number of visits in the identical 12 months remained comparable over time.

Additional analyses revealed notable variations in keeping with age and intercourse. Relative to baseline, psychological health-related emergency visits within the second 12 months of the pandemic elevated by 22.1% amongst teen ladies (aged 13 to 17), whereas these visits decreased by 15.0% amongst boys aged 5 to 12 and 9.0% amongst teen boys (aged 13 to 17).

The info additionally confirmed that ladies’ visits elevated significantly for particular diagnostic classes. For instance, amongst ladies, there was a 43.6% improve in visits for suicidal ideation, suicide try, or self-injury and a 120.4% improve in visits for consuming issues within the second 12 months of the pandemic. Amongst boys, psychological health-related visits decreased or stayed the identical throughout diagnostic classes in each pandemic years. The researchers word that these findings are in line with different research indicating that the pandemic has taken a larger toll on ladies’ psychological well being.

Inpatient psychiatry admissions additionally elevated throughout the pandemic. After a psychological health-related emergency division go to, youth had been extra more likely to be admitted for inpatient psychiatric care and stayed in inpatient psychiatric care longer in each pandemic years in comparison with the baseline 12 months. 

Importantly, throughout each years of the pandemic, youth had been extra more likely to spend two or extra nights in a medical unit ready to be admitted to a psychiatric unit, a apply the researchers name “extended boarding.” Relative to the baseline 12 months, extended boarding elevated by 27.1% within the first 12 months of the pandemic and 76.4% within the second 12 months of the pandemic. The rise within the second 12 months of the pandemic was particularly excessive (87.2%) amongst teenagers aged 13 to 17. 

In response to the researchers, the rise in extended boarding may very well be as a result of two components: elevated demand and decreased capability. In different phrases, extra kids wanted pressing psychological well being care, however there have been additionally fewer inpatient psychiatric beds and fewer certified workers to fulfill these wants. The researchers word that this underscores the significance of increasing the capability of psychiatric providers for youth.

Though the research centered solely on youth with industrial insurance coverage, the findings make clear the broad want for applicable, responsive psychological well being care for kids and youths. The researchers counsel that educating and supporting major care suppliers in delivering psychological well being care may assist tackle youth psychological well being considerations earlier than they require extra acute, hospital-based care. On the identical time, they word that supporting current psychological well being care suppliers and rising the pipeline of certified workers are essential steps in addressing the supplier scarcity. 

Table of Contents


Overhage, L., Hailu, R., Busch, A. B., Mehotra, A., Michelson, Ok. A., & Huskamp, H. A. (2023). Tendencies in acute care use for psychological well being circumstances amongst youth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Psychiatry. 


MH112829 , MH019733 , HS026503 , AG051108