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By Maggie Fox
According to a study by the researchers, on Friday more and more children in the US emergency rooms came up in a mental health crisis. And the increase is especially noticeable among minority children.
It's not clear why, but the researchers say their results are startling. They look the same pattern across the country.
"It's really daunting. The resources of the Mental Health Community, especially the youth, are incredibly scarce, "said Drs. Anna Abrams, pediatrician and researcher at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC.
"It's really shocking."
Abrams is an emergency pediatric emergency physician examining differences in child care.
"In my clinical practice, I've begun to increase the number of mental health presentations," she told NBC News.
She decided to see if the same thing happened nationally. She looked at data from 45 children's hospitals across the country from 2012 to 2016.
"We've seen an increase in mental health presentations of about 55 percent throughout the period," said Abrams.
"For the white children it was about 48 percent. When we looked at the non-Hispanic black population, the five-year increase was 64 percent and the Hispanics' five-year increase was 77 percent, "she added. "There were big differences."
Abrams and colleagues will present their findings at a meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which begins on Friday.
In 2012, they found that 50.4 visits to the emergency room per 100,000 visits to children were for mental health reasons. By 2016, mental health was the reason for 78.5 emergency medical visits per 100,000 children.
"With stratified race and ethnicity, mental health visits to the nation's emergency departments for black and non-Latin American children and adolescents rose almost twice as fast as they did for white and Latin American children and adolescents," Dr. Research in emergency medicine at Children & # 39; s.
"Access to psychiatric services for children can be difficult, and data suggest that this may be even more difficult for minority children than for non-minority youth."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have noted an increase in mental health problems, especially in severe depression, across the country and especially among adolescents.
According to the CDC, one in five children between the ages of 3 and 17 – about 15 million – have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder in a given year. But only 20 percent of them are diagnosed or cared for.
The average age of children admitted for acute mental illness was 13 years.
"One of our other analyzes showed that a non-Hispanic black child was 1.5 times more likely to be in an emergency department with a mental illness than a white child during our studies. The numbers are just amazing, "said Abrams.
Abrams said a combination of factors is likely to cause the increases.
"We can speculate, but we can not say for sure what happens," she said. In part, it could be due to the shortage of psychiatric professionals who can help children. There is also a significant increase in some mental health problems.
People also talk more openly about depression, anxiety and other common mental health problems. This would make parents feel comfortable looking for help for their children, said Abrams. However, finding specialized care can be difficult.
"Many children never see specialized health care," she said. "Often these children need specialized psychiatric care that goes beyond the capabilities of a general pediatrician."