The pediatric healthcare system in Colorado remains in a state of emergency, according to the Children’s Hospital Colorado.
The health worker, who stated a state of emergency for the mental health of young people 1 year ago, he said in his follow-up last month that conditions have worsened.
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Record numbers of children and young people in mental health crises were reported in the pediatric healthcare system last year. Recent data shows a 23% increase in visits to hospital emergency departments for behavioral health issues this year compared to the first quarter of 2021 and a 103% increase compared to the first quarter of 2019.
Access to care has also been an issue with only 22 percent of young people in Colorado with a severely disabled mental health condition receiving the care they need.
“This time of year is historically stressful for children and families, and we typically see a spike in the number of children and young people seeking mental health care,” said Ron-Li Liaw, MD, Mental Health-in Chief for Children’s Colorado.
“But with Q1 numbers higher than we’ve ever seen before, we feel compelled to ask the community for help to fight the crisis and provide resources to families as they wait for solutions to take effect.”
The pandemic has exacerbated a national crisis in youth mental health and substance abuse. A CDC study which found that 44 percent of American teens reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless,” compared with 37 percent before the pandemic. It also found that 1 in 5 teenagers have thought about suicide.
In 2021, lawmakers responded to Children’s Hospital Colorado’s call for action. Following the approval of a list of bills in this and the last session, the state is expected to allocate over $ 150 million in one-time ARPA funds to address the mental health needs of children and youth across the continuum of care from prevention. to the treatment.
Investments have been made to address a number of issues affecting the mental health delivery system, including a temporary program to facilitate youth mental health services in response to identified needs e upgrading of residential services for young people and families with behavioral health problems.
“We have launched our mental health platform for youth where any school-age child in Colorado can have access to three free mental health sessions,” said Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D – Aurora), Chair of the Commission for the House’s public and behavioral health and human services, speaking during a virtual meeting at the Colorado State of Reformation Conference last fall.
“Our kids have been disproportionately affected. Why for them [the pandemic] it is the first experience in life where perhaps their parents have lost their jobs. We have had a huge number of food insecurity that occurred overnight, and the way they were affected, the way they were unable to go to school and how their normal flow was affected. it was exceptionally significant. “
The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing plans to spend up to $ 280 million in combined state and federal funds over the next two years on home and community services (HCBS).
ARPA requires states to expand Medicaid HCBS to meet a variety of community needs, including school services, as well as rehabilitation and behavioral health services for children and youth.
The Behavioral Health Administration, that was established During this year’s legislative session, she worked with providers and community groups to coordinate behavioral health efforts across agencies for a fair, patient-centered care system for the state’s children and youth.