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National mental health emergency declared for young people due to pandemic

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 6:03 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Health experts say there has been an increase amongst mental health issues for young people and the pandemic is believed to be the cause.

According to local psychiatric and pediatric groups, more kids are seeing a mental health counselor than ever before.

They say while it’s easy to see the physical effects of COVID-19, it takes more time to see the mental health issues caused by the pandemic.

“We know it’s negatively impacted our youth and adults as well,” Psychologist Pam Imm said.

According to the CDC, ER visits in relation to suicides among girls ages 12 through 17 increased more than 50% in early 2021 compared to 2019.

“Older students are saying they are feeling depressed and anxious and not sure how to handle the feelings cause it’s overwhelming for these children,” Kershaw County Schools Director of Behavioral Services Melissa Royalty said.

The CDC also reports that ER visits for mental health crises were up 24% among children ages five to eleven and up 31% for 12 to 17-year-olds.

“We’re seeing lots of anxiety and depression as young as elementary students,” Royalty said.

The American Rescue Plan has allotted $80 million to combine behavioral health needs into pediatric primary care, $20 million to support youth suicide prevention programs, and $50 million for local behavioral health needs.

This is something school mental health professionals feel is much needed.

“I’m so excited politicians see the need and send the dollars so we can get the support they need,” Royalty said.

If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis and contemplating suicide, please contact the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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