School stress. Social isolation. Family upheaval. A pandemic.
Our nation’s children and teens have quietly been carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders for too long. Today, the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) is sounding the alarm for kids because:
The kids’ mental health crisis is a national emergency.
We invite you to join us in calling on Congress to take immediate action by funding emergency, preventative, wraparound services and treatment to stem this escalating crisis.
Parents, caregivers, and children experienced tremendous stress driven by disruptions in daily routines, social isolation, financial insecurity, and grief. The depth of the mental health crisis among children and teens is staggering, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated it:
- Before the pandemic, 1 in 5 children – anyone under age 18 – experienced a mental health condition on an annual basis.
- From 2007 to 2018, there was a 60% increase in the rate of suicide among 10- to 24-year-olds, making it the second leading cause of death for this age group.
- In just the first half of 2021, children’s hospitals reported a 45% increase in the number of cases of self-injury and suicide in children ages 5-17 than during the same period in 2019.
- More than half of adults (53%) with children in their household say they are concerned about the mental state of their children.
By failing to act, we are failing our children.
To help America’s kids, Congress must address the gaps preventing children and teens – and those who care for them — from accessing the mental health resources they need and deserve:
- 15 million children and teens nationwide are in need of care from mental health professionals, but there are significant shortages across many pediatric mental health professions.
- There are currently between 8,000 and 9,000 child and adolescent psychiatrists treating children and teens in the U.S. That’s 10 child psychiatrists per 100,000 kids, but it’s estimated we need 47 per 100,000.
- Nearly 3 million children and adolescents do not have access to a school-based mental health professional, such as a school psychologist, counselor, or social worker.
The effects of this mental health crisis are widespread and long-term. Inequities that predate the pandemic have contributed to a disproportionate impact on children and families from communities of color. The lack of early-intervention services means more children will end up in the emergency room, potentially waiting days for a bed in a psychiatric unit to open up.
The stress of this outsized crisis puts already-strapped health care systems at greater risk and could needlessly deplete critical points of access for mental health services.
With their developing minds focused on other things, it’s harder for kids to focus in school and their academic progress has already taken a hit, compounding the worry parents and caregivers are also feeling.
Every kid in America should have the right to live up to their full potential. The kids’ mental health crisis is a national emergency – and we’re in the fight of our lives to end it.
Join us in sounding the alarm for our kids!