Mental health emergencies among children rise amid pandemic, report shows
A recent report shows that emergency department visits for mental health emergencies rose for children during the pandemic. Now, a Valley pediatrician and mother of three is urging parents to listen to their kids.
"Unfortunately, we're seeing kids attempt suicide now at younger and younger ages," said UT Health RGV Pediatrician Dr. Cristel Escalona.
An American Academy of Pediatrics report from October 2021 indicates that the number of emergency room visits for mental health emergencies rose more than 20% compared to the average rate before the pandemic.
"It really impacted me that an eight-year-old would think or talk about suicide because that, as a pediatrician, was unfathomable to me," Dr. Escalona said. "I just couldn't believe somebody that little would ever contemplate something like that."
While some school officials say they have noticed the trend, they worry parents aren't acting until it's too late.
"They think that students are going to be considered less, and they're not going to be considered as a normal student," said Viviana Garza, a licensed school psychology specialist with PSJA.
Garza says she's seen students worry more about problems their parents are facing, along with stress from readapting to a classroom setting.
The University of Texas System offers online resources to help people find mental health specialists. For more information, call 888-901-2726.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 888-628-9454.