Pediatric emergency room visits related to mental health issues increase at Valley Children’s Hospital

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) — A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that emergency room visits from children with mental illness have increased after 2019.

Valley Children’s Healthcare officials say the hospital is seeing the same trend.

“There are several theories as to why this pandemic has led to this impact or this effect that we see in mental health issues,” said Dr. Nael Mhaissen, Medical Director for Infectious Diseases. “But one of them is the stress associated with this pandemic, especially since the kids can’t connect with their peers who aren’t out and about like they used to.”

Valley Children’s has seen more children under the age of 17 come to the emergency room with mental illness in the past two years. Think of depression, anxiety, eating and tic disorders.

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The health facility also saw an increase in calls for mental health consultations.

“These things, you don’t want to wait for them to get serious or really bad before tackling it,” said Dr. mahissen. “You want to have that conversation. You want to seek health and care for your child as soon as possible.”

The CDC study also shows that teenage girls ages 12 to 17 were responsible for the most ER visits.

“For some reason, teenage girls seem to be more vulnerable to mental illness and other conditions,” says Dr. Mhaissen.

Hospital officials hope to see a downward trend as we move back to a new normal, but emphasize continued awareness and vigilance in noting signs of emotional distress in children.

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