Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The UW Health Pediatric Behavioral Health Specialist says there is a trend with young patients in the emergency room.
“We’ve seen a really large increase with children, adolescents in particular, coming to the emergency room with suicide attempts.”
Clinical psychologist Doctor Shanda Wells says the increase in patients with anxiety and depression can also be seen in pediatric primary care.
“We’ve really seen the increase in just the past two years. We have been estimating my providers would probably be seeing around 150 patients per year, and they’re seeing closer to 300.”
A child psychiatrist with Marshfield Clinic is seeing the same sort of issues.
“I know that we are seeing more of our outpatient children and adolescents that are in a more acute level of distress.”
There is also an issue with trying to combat the rise in the need for mental health care.
“The resources aren’t increasing at the same rate that the resources are being needed.”
Doctor Wells says factors that could drive a child to suicide have gotten worse in recent years.
“It’s ringing true to many of the things that we know put teens at risk for suicide. Which are things like loneliness, and feelings of hopelessness and isolation. Those things have certainly been exasperated by the pandemic.”
Mental health experts recommend an open line of communication even though it may be hard.
“Not only not being afraid to ask but also not being afraid to listen and to really hear them and to hear what they are saying.”
As for the decrease in resources, Doctor Wells says the solution to help those in need can vary.
“I don’t know if there’s one solution that would fit all, but I think thinking creatively about how we service those patients can be a step in that direction.” If you or anyone you know is struggling mentally, you can call the 9-8-8 lifeline you see at the bottom of your screen.