By Sarah D. Sparks — March 31, 2021
It’s been a rough year.
Since the pandemic began, children and adolescents have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and stress, and even more specific issues such as addictive internet behaviors.
“I’ve never had so many referrals than in the last six months. … Normally it’s two or three a month and now it’s maybe two a week,” said Celeste Birkhofer, a licensed clinical psychologist at Stanford Medical School who works with children’s mental health issues.
“I’m booked. I try to help send them to other colleagues and they’re booked, too. It’s challenging, especially challenging for a family that’s feeling like they’re in a bit of a crisis.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from April through October of last year, the proportion of children between the ages of 5 and 11 visiting an emergency department because of a mental health crisis climbed 24 percent compared to that same time period in 2019. Among 12- to 17-year-olds, the number increased by 31 percent.
And that increase took place in a virus-laden year during which many people were hesitant to seek medical attention.
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