What is the pediatric mental health crisis?

In the United States, pediatric mental health has become a national emergency. Mental health disorders are on the rise, and suicide is now the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24 years.

How does it affect EDs?

Emergency departments (EDs) are often the front door to care for children in crisis. Utilization for pediatric mental health visits increased by 8% annually between 2015 and 2020 while all other visits increased by 1.5% annually. EDs may struggle to meet the growing and complex needs of these children.

Resources for improving care

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    PEAK: Suicide

    For EDs and EMS - This Pediatric Education and Advocacy Kit (PEAK) features pragmatic, synthesized, multidisciplinary resources for suicide screening and prevention--including a new bottom-line recommendation on suicide screening. All resources are free and open access and more will be added over time, including a resource for prehospital practitioners.

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    PEAK: Agitation

    For EDs and EMS - Agitation in children in the ED can be dangerous and distressing for patients, families, and ED staff. PEAK: Agitation resources can assist hospital and prehospital teams, in partnership with patients and families, in caring for children experiencing agitation—including identifying the etiology and initiating a range of management strategies. All resources are free and open access and more will be added over time.

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    ED STOP Suicide QI Collaborative

    For EDs - This quality improvement collaborative, which took place in 2023, brought together ED-based teams from across the nation with experts in pediatric mental health. The teams exchanged evidence-based best practices and ideas to optimize the care and follow-up of children and adolescents presenting with acute suicidality. Watch recordings of the learning sessions or view resources collated during the collaborative.

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    Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program (PMHCA) toolkit: Coming soon!

    For EDs - A toolkit for both primary care and ED clinicians is in development through a collaboration between the PMHCA program and EMSC.

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