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 emergency systems?

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.

  • agitated child

    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.

  • ED Stop Suicide

    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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    Compassionate Options for Pediatric EMS (COPE) Project

    For EMS - The goal of this project is to develop a systems approach to out-of-hospital pediatric death that equips EMS providers with the knowledge, tools and skills needed to manage emotional and psychological effects for the grieving families they encounter as well as for themselves.

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    Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program (PMHCA) toolkit

    For PMHCA grantees – A toolkit for PMHCAs wanting to work with EDs through a collaboration between the PMHCA program and EMSC.

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