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Emergency Departments Overwhelmed by Young Patients With Mental-Health Concerns

While anxiety, depression and other mental-health conditions started to climb among children before Covid, they soared during the isolation and disruption of the pandemic. The increased demand for treatment exacerbated a shortage of available mental-health services. This has left desperate families pouring into emergency departments that legally can turn no one away, reported The Wall Street Journal, in a piece that documents a day in a Syracuse, NY emergency room.

They included a 17-year-old girl with chronic depression who had attempted suicide by overdosing on ibuprofen—her fourth trip to the E.R. for mental-health reasons in two years – and a 14-year-old girl who had started cutting herself after being bullied over social media. The youngest new patient was a 5-year-old boy with behavioral disorders. His mother had tried to get him into outpatient therapy, but there was a long wait list. A physician assistant at a different emergency department had prescribed him five medications in the meantime.

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