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Children's mental health remains stable early in the pandemic

Children's mental health remains stable early in the pandemic


Mental health among children and adolescents remained largely stable during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, but racial disparities in access to outpatient psychiatric treatment worsened, a new study suggests. .

A cross-sectional analysis of mental health disorders and use of outpatient mental health care among children aged 6 to 17 years reveals that rates of severe mental health problems decreased by just 0.3% from 2019 to 2021. There was little change in the proportion of people who used outpatient care for mental health care.

However, racial disparities in outpatient mental health care intensified during this period, with utilization increasing by 3% among white youth but decreasing by 4% among black youth.

“The lack of increase in mental health disorders among children and adolescents from 2019 to 2021 suggests successful adaptation to the psychosocial disruptions associated with the pandemic, but outpatient mental health Widening racial and ethnic disparities in care highlight the urgency of addressing the structural factors that may promote this racial health disorder, “Ethnic Disparities,'' New York City Department of Medicine. noted Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, principal investigator in the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and colleagues.

The research is Published online on March 13th JAMA Psychiatry.

meanwhile previous research Although an increase in depressive symptoms has been reported among children and adolescents, researchers noted there is little data on severe mental health disorders or changes in outpatient mental health care during the pandemic.

To address this knowledge gap, researchers analyzed data from the nationally representative 2019 and 2021 Health Expenditure Panel Surveys of 8,331 young people (mean age 11.6 years, 3,385 white, 4,300 male). ) measured changes in mental health disorders and outpatient mental health care.

The Columbia Disability Scale (a parent-reported instrument) was used to measure mental health disorders. Researchers controlled for age, gender, and disability level.

The overall proportion of young people with severe mental health disorders decreased from 9.7% in 2019 to 9.4% in 2021 (adjusted difference, 0.3%; 95% CI, -1.9% to 1.2%) .

There was also little difference in the overall proportion of young people who received outpatient treatment over the study period, increasing slightly from 11.9% in 2019 to 13% in 2021. Outpatient service utilization among young people with severe disabilities increased from 39% to 42%.

However, when researchers analyzed the use of outpatient mental health care by race, they found that use increased by 3.3% for white youth (15.1% in 2019), compared to a 4.3% decrease for black youth (2019). 4% in 2021). 18.4% from 2019 to 2021. P interaction = .002).

“The lack of an increase in serious mental health disorders among children and adolescents from 2019 to 2021 does not explain the need for increased public funding for outpatient mental health services for children and adolescents. “Don't settle for complacency,” the authors write, half of U.S. youth with severe mental health disorders received no outpatient mental health care in either year. .

“It is also important to place these findings in the longer-term context of youth mental health problems, which have been on the rise over the past decade.”

Study funding sources are not listed. The authors report no relevant financial relationships.

Bhatia Swift Yasgar (LSW, MA) is a freelance writer with a counseling practice in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is a regular contributor to numerous medical publications, including Medscape and WebMD, and has authored several consumer health books, as well as Behind the Burqa: Our Lives in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom. He is also the author of “Memoirs of Two Brave Afghans''. sisters who told her their stories).




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