Less than a decade ago, the emergency department at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego would see maybe one or two young psychiatric patients per day, said Dr. Benjamin Maxwell, the hospital’s interim director of child and adolescent psychiatry.
Now, it’s not unusual for the emergency room to see 10 psychiatric patients in a day, and sometimes even 20, said Maxwell. “What a lot of times is happening now is kids aren’t getting the care they need, until it gets to the point where it is dangerous,” he said.
ERs throughout California are reporting a sharp increase in adolescents and young adults seeking care for a mental health crisis. In 2018, California ERs treated 84,584 young patients ages 13 to 21 who had a primary diagnosis involving mental health. That is up from 59,705 in 2012, a 42% increase, according to data provided by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
By comparison, the number of ER encounters among that age group for all other diagnoses grew by just 4% over the same period. And the number of ER encounters involving mental health among all other age groups — everyone except adolescents and young adults — rose by about 18%.
This article was written by Phillip Reese and originally posted on khn.org. To view the article in its entirety, click here.