Psychiatric Admissions Increase Among Children, and Other News

Adult holding child's hand in hospitalFrom 2008-2015, the number of children admitted to children’s hospitals for suicidal thoughts or self-harm more than doubled. More than half of these admissions were among teens ages 15-17, with those ages 12-14 accounting for 39.5% and children ages 5-11 making up an additional 12.7% of admissions.

Suicide rates have increased among most groups, climbing to a 30-year high in 2014.

The study did not directly explore factors behind this increase in psychiatric admissions. Its authors urge researchers to explore the surge in suicidal thoughts and self-harm among children.

One factor contributing to the problem might be lack of access to mental health care. A new study points to the difficulties parents often face when seeking care for their children. For the study, researchers posed as parents of a 12-year-old with depression. They contacted 913 Blue Cross Blue Shield providers in the cities of Houston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Boston, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After calling twice, they got an appointment with a psychiatrist in just 17% of cases and a pediatrician 40% of the time.

Access barriers persisted at every stage of the search. Online directories were often out of date, with inaccurate information or listings for doctors who had moved or retired. Doctor shortages often meant long waits. Another recent study supports these findings, suggesting there are often long waits for childhood developmental specialists.

Welsh Schools Mental Health Scheme to ‘Tackle Stigma’

About 10% of young people in Wales experience a mental health issue at some point. “Time to Change Wales,” a mental health awareness campaign that began in 2012, aims to reduce stigma and offer support to young people with mental health concerns. The pilot program features young people who have experienced mental health problems and will begin in three Welsh schools.

‘A Little Bit OCD’: The Downside of Mental Health Awareness

Increased awareness of mental health may not always be a good thing. Some people use mental health conditions to characterize their personality. For example, a neat freak is said to be “a little bit OCD” and a person remembering a negative experience at school may have had a “flashback.” This language can increase stigma, causing people to conflate the challenges of daily life with the more pronounced challenges of mental health conditions. Making mental health issues sound like minor annoyances can also discredit those with diagnosed mental health conditions.

Virtual Support Groups Help Grieving Spouses with Depression

The loss of a spouse can be isolating, particularly in old age. Research has shown support groups may help, but geographic restrictions, mobility impairments, and similar factors can make it difficult for seniors to access these groups. New research suggests online support groups can overcome these barriers while offering quality support.

A Health Care Bill That’s Bad for Moms and Babies

The Affordable Care Act guaranteed several essential health benefits, including maternity coverage, mental health coverage, and pediatric care. The Republican-backed American Health Care Act (AHCA) stands to roll back many of these benefits, potentially undermining the health of women and babies. This opinion piece talks about how maternity coverage could end, women with postpartum depression may be unable to access treatment, and basic pediatric care could become inaccessible.

How to Encourage Someone to See a Therapist

Loved ones are often eager to help people experiencing psychological distress, but there are limits on what they can do. When a loved one experiences intense psychological suffering or symptoms of a mental health condition, seeing a therapist can help. One way to encourage a loved one to seek therapy is to remove the stigma of asking for help from a professional. Nearly half of respondents to one survey said someone in their household had seen a therapist, suggesting therapy is helpful to a wide range of people.

Pet Dogs Help Kids Feel Less Stressed

Pet dogs can help reduce the effects of stressful experiences for children, according to a study of 100 children. Children who engaged with their dogs during a stressful experience had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggesting a less pronounced reaction to stress.

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  • daysha

    May 12th, 2017 at 3:26 PM

    There have been families that I have known who can’t get the help for their children due to lack of access in addition to a lack of funding. I think that it is highly unfair that those who can afford healthcare are the ones who get the best, and for the rest of us, it’s just like being thrown out on your own and being told well, do the best with it that you can. How is it not the responsibility of the collective to at the very least help take care of these children who most need the help?

  • conley

    May 13th, 2017 at 9:00 AM

    Well I know that it can be difficult with some people, but I think that for the most part people are much more open to going to a therapist than may have been the case at another point in history. I don’t happen to think that there is as much of a stigma that surrounds this decision as what people may have felt in the past. And if you think that this is something that could really help a loved one, then you are only hurting them when you don’t say anything.

  • Peyton

    May 15th, 2017 at 7:14 AM

    Why is it so difficult for our “leaders” to see that single payer healthcare is the best option for our country?

  • Farrah

    May 16th, 2017 at 9:48 AM

    We should pay close attention to the pilot programs which are to be implemented in Wales. If they are a success then by all means, we should find a way to start implementing them into US schools.

  • Tori

    May 17th, 2017 at 11:11 AM

    Having a support group available for you when you are going through the toughest times in your life could be a real Godsend.
    I think that there are a lot of people who are older and they lose someone close to them who could very much benefit from these groups like this.
    You might have to have someone teach them the ropes on a tablet or computer but this could be a true gift to them when they have lost someone and have no means for interacting other than through an online setting.

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