Children’s Mental Health Crisis: Join EMSC’s Next QI Collaborative

  • Published November 30, 2022
Suicide QIC

As many op-eds and news stories this month have pointed out, underlying the pediatric surge is another crisis: a rapid increase in children’s mental health conditions.

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of children 3-17 years old diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29% and those with depression by 27%. Most startlingly, suicide is now the second leading cause of death in children older than 10 years of age (after unintentional injury).

In light of these trends, last October, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children's Hospital Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry declared a “national emergency” in pediatric mental health, and last month, 134 state and national organizations collaborated in a letter to the Biden administration urging the federal government to take action.

EDs & pediatric mental health

Children experiencing mental health crises often end up in emergency departments (EDs), despite EDs being widely considered suboptimal settings for mental health care. As children’s mental health conditions have increased, so has ED utilization for them: research shows that pediatric visits to EDs for mental health conditions have increased 6 to 10 percent yearly.

To help address the children’s mental health crisis, the EMSC Innovation and Improvement Center (EIIC) is enrolling ED-based teams of two or more individuals in a quality improvement (QI) collaborative aimed at improving clinical care processes for children presenting to EDs with acute suicidality: the ED Screening and Treatment Options for Pediatric (STOP) Suicide QI Collaborative.  The ED STOP Suicide Collaborative will focus on screening, assessment, family-centered care, interventions, and optimal disposition that leverages regional resources.

Registration is open now through Jan. 13, 2023; the collaborative will begin Feb. 2, 2023, and run through November.

What is a QI collaborative?

  • EIIC’s QI collaboratives are based on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Breakthrough Series Model, which was first outlined in 2003. QI collaboratives can help reduce the time it takes for evidence-based best practices to reach the patient's bedside.
  • While participants can earn free continuing education credit, QI collaboratives differ from most education programs in that they emphasize implementation as opposed to passive learning.
  • The timeframe for a QI collaborative is generally between six and 15 months; for the ED STOP Suicide QI Collaborative, it will be 10 months.
  • QI collaboratives, including ED STOP Suicide, typically meet for one hour, once a month, with optional/additional coaching sessions available and brief supplementary presentations by experts.

Who should join the ED STOP Suicide QI Collaborative?

  • Any hospital or freestanding ED team of two or more individuals.
  • Teams can include any ED staff, such as physicians, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, child life specialists, medical watch personnel, and others.
  • The collaborative is also open to EMSC State Partnership program managers.

For more information about the ED STOP Suicide QI Collaborative, watch a recent informational webinar. To register, visit the ED STOP Suicide QI Collaborative page.

Coming soon

In addition to the ED STOP Suicide QI Collaborative, EIIC will be launching the new Pediatric Readiness Quality Collaborative later this spring. The collaborative is the second iteration of the original Pediatric Readiness Quality Collaborative, which ran from April 2018 to June 2020. The new iteration will help more advanced teams begin to assess how processes of care directly impact patient care delivery. Focus areas will include new clinical evidence, including pediatric suicide and pain management. The collaborative will be open to ED-based teams and is anticipated ro run for approximately one year. To be alerted when registration opens, sign up here