Mental Health Emergencies Among Young People

mental health

Mental health conditions affect millions of Americans. Moreover, a significant number of people struggling with mental illness are under the age of 24. How mental health disorders impact a young person varies from case to case. However, when young people ignore or fail to seek treatment for psychiatric disorders, grave complications can arise.

In recent years, public health experts and various campaigns have sought to raise awareness about mental illness. The goal is to erode the stigma that prevents individuals from finding the courage to discuss their symptoms with friends, family, and professionals. The effort to dissolve the shame around mental health has been considerable. Still, society has a long way to go in encouraging those who are suffering to seek help.

Diagnosis, intervention, treatment, and a program of recovery are essential for any person living with mental illness. While finding support in urban areas is relatively simple, those who live in rural America have a challenge finding resources. Primary care physicians can help people in less populated areas to a degree. However, new research highlights a lack of mental health training and screening expertise among primary care physicians, as a whole.

Perhaps most concerning, a recent study shows a dramatic rise in visits to the emergency department (ED) for mental health problems. The increase is unusually high among younger demographics – ages 6 to 24 – according to HealthDay. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health report a 28 percent rise in psychiatric visits among the age span between 2011 and 2015. The findings appear in the journal Pediatrics.

Why are More Young People Seeking Help for Mental Health?

Determining the etiology of mental health trends is not a simple task. Many factors require consideration. The study reveals that more suicides and the addiction epidemic in the U.S. play a significant role. Study author Luther Kalb, Ph.D. points out that "the ER plays a critical role in treating overdoses." Kalb, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, also states that it’s likely that social media contributes considerably.

Dr. Susan Duffy, in an editorial accompanying the study, lists a number of other factors influencing the increase in ED mental health visits. More young people landing in the ED for mental illness, according to Dr. Duffy, is linked to:

  • Poverty
  • Violence
  • Child and parental substance abuse
  • Social media’s influence on depression, isolation and anxiety risk
  • Information overload

On the upside, expanded insurance coverage across the country means that more people can seek help. Conversely, a lack of psychiatric training among primary care providers means that more people turn to the ED for mental illness. Duffy, a professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, says the trends are clear and that the findings "should not come as a great surprise."

Data suggests that over 20 percent of adolescents aged 13 to 18 have experienced a debilitating mental health disorder," Duffy said. "For the past 10 years, there has been an increasing trend in children's, youth and young adult mental health visits, and increasing recognition that the resources do not meet the need for care."

Mental Health Training is Lacking

More 6 through 24-year-olds seeking mental illness assistance from EDs is alarming and must be addressed. But, it is also worth noting the 28 percent increase rose even higher when analyzing specific demographics. The researchers found a 54 percent increase among adolescents, black youths, and young adults. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a 90 percent increase in mental health-related ED visits among Latinos.

What’s more, Professor Kalb said he is "surprised at how few saw a mental health provider" after presenting to the ED, the article reports. The researcher did find that practically all young people consulted with a physician, at least. Still, without mental health training and screening expertise patients face the risk of being underserved.

Kalb notes that many hospitals across the country lack the resources to staff mental health providers. He adds that, “This could be changed by increasing mental health staff in the ER, creating special intake settings that deal just with mental health, using new technologies such as tele-psychiatry, and cross-training providers."

Mental Health Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we have the expertise to assist young men struggling with mental illness. Our facility offers clients residential treatment, intensive outpatient programs for mental health, and dual diagnosis outpatient. With the assistance of doctorate and masters-level clinicians, male clients set realistic treatment goals and see them come to fruition. PACE’s highly credentialed specialists are a phone call away.

Prospective clients are also invited to submit a confidential online inquiry.

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