• Children are not mini adults: Why we need pediatric behavioral health care designed specifically for kids

      Brightline (2021)
      The last 18 months have been tough for everyone, but kids and teens have had it especially hard. The proof is in the headlines. In the past year, children’s hospitals around the country, from California to New Hampshire, started declaring states of emergency for kids’ mental health. The CDC found that between March and October of 2020, mental-health related emergency department visits increased by 24% for children ages 5-11 and 31% for children ages 12-17 compared to 2019. There was also a staggering 50.6% increase in suspected suicide attempt emergency room visits for girls ages 12-17 between February to March 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. This pediatric behavioral health crisis has affected not only children and their families, but also health plans and employers. Because of the huge surge in need for children’s mental health emergency services — and the severe shortage of pediatric-trained specialists — health plans have had an increasingly hard time delivering timely, quality care to their members. Meanwhile, employers are seeing productivity take a hit and many working parents and caregivers drop out of the workforce. According to Brightline’s 2021 Pediatric Behavioral Health Needs Survey, 21% of parents and caregivers have quit their jobs in the past year or are planning to in the coming year to care for their children’s behavioral health needs.