WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Mental health officials said they’re seeing more young adults attempting suicide, and hospitals are having a hard time keeping up.
The number of emergency room patients in need of psychiatric care has increased in kids ages 5 to 17. Hospital staff said their crews are working at capacity.
From the children’s psychiatric hospital in Wichita to the one in Hays, the trends are similar.
Erin Connelly Marceau, KVC Hospitals Wichita clinical director, said there are a lot of psychiatric needs.
“There’s just way more calls when more kids in need way more than everyone is always able to serve,” said Marceau. “Our admissions department is having record high number calls right now.”
Audrey Lindenmeyer, KVC Hospitals Hays director, said the situations are more extreme.
“You know, the depression, self-harm, AWOL attempts or the running attempts,” said Lindenmeyer.
It’s an increase that is noticeable in Kansas emergency rooms.
Both Lindenmeyer and Connelly Marceau said from April to October of 2020 there was a 24% increase in 5 to 11 year olds coming into the ER after attempted suicides and a 31% increase of 12 to 17 year olds.
“We have seen way more acuity,” said Connelly Marceau. “I think that sometimes kids are just waiting longer to get help, families are waiting until the crisis is larger and bigger and more severe than previously.”
The directors said pandemic-related stressors may be to blame as there are fewer social gatherings and activities. They said there is a need for more staff, as these cases require more care, but are hopeful fewer restrictions could help.
“The more we talk about it, hopefully, the more we can normalize that a lot of people struggle with mental health,” said Connelly Marceau.
The directors said now is a good time to check in on your kids and plan some safe activities to help release some stress. They said to pay extra attention if you notice your child isolating more often.
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