Study: Mental health-related ER visits spiked among youth in 2020


There are resources available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The pandemic is having a deep psychological impact on many people.

A year of isolation for many coupled with economic difficulties has been tough for adults and young people alike.

A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found there was a 31% increase in mental health-related trips to emergency rooms among people between the ages of 12 and 17 in 2020 compared to 2019.

“The lockdown has been very difficult for people psychologically,” said Dr. George Keepers, the chair of Psychiatry at OHSU. “Our emergency visits for pediatric patients with psychiatric problems have dramatically increased.”

Emily Moser, the youth director for Lines for Life, said adults have coping skills that young people are still learning.

“Social connectedness is a natural support for young people. Without having school and everyone being locked in, the natural supports and coping environment was gone,” Moser said.

If you are in need of someone to talk to, here are a few resources:

Lines for Life: 24/7 confidential anonymous help with highly trained staff and volunteers; provides immediate assistance, compassionate support and resource referrals.
1.800.273.TALK (8255)
YouthLine: A teen-to-teen crisis and help line. Contact us with anything that may be bothering you; no problem is too big or too small! Teens available to help daily from 4-10pm Pacific Time (off-hour calls answered by Lines for Life).
1-877-968-8491 | Text teen2teen to 839863

Keepers said the new CDC study shows an increase in ER visits for suicide attempts but also for other issues, as well.

“Some emergency room visits are due to aggressiveness and harm to others,” Keepers said. He said the same behaviors, including protests against mask mandates and other government-imposed restrictions, were on display during other historical pandemics. “People have been very frustrated and angered by the pandemic and restrictions. They have a lot of stored-up angry feelings. Humans being what they are they tend to act aggressively toward people of a lower status who can’t fight back. They’re not going to behave that way with their boss. They’re going to behave that way with a waiter at a restaurant or the flight attendant because those people are bound by their service prerogative not to retaliate.”

“It’s critical for people to be kind and tolerant coming out of the pandemic,” Keepers added.

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