Growing at a staggering rate, hospitals across the state are seeing a rapid increase in the number of children requiring behavioral health treatment. Depression and anxiety have become common. It has become a concern for families and hospitals.
Earlier this week, the Department of Public Health was at Connecticut Children’s. They are working with them to monitor the situation and provide advice during this outbreak. The medical center says what he is seeing now is about two and a half times what he experienced before the pandemic.
“Every day we would have over 20 children in the emergency room awaiting placement. It was very difficult. But now that number has grown into the 1940s, ”said James Shmerling, CEO of Connecticut Children.
The Connecticut Department of Health took note. In a statement, they said they visited Connecticut Children’s over the weekend and were trying to identify options for patients 16 and older at other hospitals with appropriate psychiatric services.
The problem is one that many hospitals in the state face. Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital handles a similar volume of cases.
“It’s a crisis and we’re going to have to deal with it from a triage point of view. Just like we did during Covid, ”said Cynthia Sparer, executive director of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.
Hospital officials say this is a problem they have seen developing for some time and which has only been made worse by the pandemic.
“What happened was children were isolated at home,” Shmerling said. “Social isolation has not been good for them.”
With state hospitals facing high volumes, the CEO of the Child Health & Development Institute offers another option of help instead of a hospital visit.
“If you’re under 18 in the state of Connecticut, you can access Mobile Crisis by calling 211,” said Jeff Vanderploeg, CEO of the Child Health & Development Institute.
If you are in crisis and live in Connecticut, you can call 2-1-1 and press 1 for help. If you are outside of Connecticut you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “Home” to 741741.
Mobile Crisis is a publicly funded service that people can access by calling 211 and following directions from children’s services. Jeff Vanderploeg explains that independently licensed clinical social workers will come directly to the situation, usually within an hour.
“What they’re very good at is being able to stabilize a very difficult situation and really meet an immediate need in a crisis,” said Vanderploeg.
Vanderploeg says the service is also easing pressure on hospitals, as some children with mild to moderate needs can be identified, eliminating the need for an emergency room visit.
Solutions are something that hospitals across the state are looking for. Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital says it sees between 50 and 60 cases a day.
“The problem is real and we’re going to have to take a long-term view to find solutions,” Sparer said.