CDC reports teens are making fewer mental health department emergency visits

Healthy Information

In a positive sign that life is slowly returning to normal after the hellish three years of the COVID pandemic that led to a lockdown of schools and social activities for young Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that teens are making fewer emergency visits for mental health-related issues than at the height of the unprecedented national health emergency.

According to a new report issued by the nation’s premier health agency, kids aged 12 to 17 had improved mental health based on the criteria of a decline in the weekly emergency department (ED) trips in the fall of 2022 as compared to a year earlier in the fall of 2021 although it notes that mental health troubles remain as a “substantial public health problem,” especially among teenage girls.

“High baseline rates of poor adolescent mental and behavioral health were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CDC points out in the report, but that the easing of COVID restrictions that allowed for kids to return to school in a traditional setting and the resumption of normal social activities including better social engagement and less isolation likely contributed to the improved numbers.

The CDC states that multiple reasons could account for the improvement including that many adolescents “have returned to prepandemic-like school and community environments, which might have improved social engagement, reduced isolation, and supported mental and behavioral health for some adolescents,” and that “familial or other stressors might also have declined, resulting in fewer adverse childhood experiences… which are strongly associated with adolescent mental and behavioral health.”

(Image: Screengrab/CDC)

While mental health emergency visits may have dropped by 11 percent, not all was good news as data from the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed that trips to the ED for overdoses involving opioids were up 41 percent among adolescent males and 10 percent in females.

Researchers found that “compared to three years earlier, the number of ED visits by females in Fall 2022 was unchanged for mental health conditions overall, 14% higher for suicide-related behaviors, and 16% higher for drug overdoses,” Fox News reported.

“Increases in opioid-involved overdoses warrant further investigation but might be related to the overall rarity of adolescent opioid-involved overdoses, such that even a 10% change actually represents a small absolute change in the number of overdoses,” according to the CDC. “Still, any adolescent overdose is concerning, particularly as increased availability of highly potent and lethal counterfeit pills containing illicitly manufactured fentanyl among adolescents via social media platforms.”

In another sobering recent CDC report, the agency determined that deaths related to fentanyl overdoses have tripled over the last five years.

(Image: Screengrab/CDC)

“Drug overdose death rates involving fentanyl increased by 279% from 5.7 per 100,000 in 2016 to 21.6 in 2021, according to new data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Drug overdose death rates involving methamphetamine more than quadrupled during the same period,” the agency posted on its website, citing the disturbing numbers of the epidemic of the deadly substance which has permeated the country with trafficking largely coming from Mexico, a flow of poison that just became exponentially worse due to the end of Title 42.

“Prioritizing implementation of evidence-based prevention and trauma-informed early intervention and treatment strategies that promote mental and behavioral health among adolescents might help prevent MHCs, suicide-related behaviors, and drug overdoses, and improve overall health,” the CDC stated, adding that it “supports efforts to promote adolescent well-being and provides resources for clinicians, families, schools, and communities.”

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Chris Donaldson
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