CDC report suggests mental health of youth is improving

A person can be seen sitting upset. — Pixabay/File

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the health crisis of youngsters in the US appears to be improving, reported CBS News.

The improvement has been noted in the data from last fall as the emergency room visits were more last year than this year.

The data revealed by the CDC is an early sign that deteriorating mental health conditions and suicide attempts of adult patients especially teen girls may be decreasing nationwide.

However, the CDC data also revealed that the average weekly emergency room visits were high compared to the pre-pandemic fall of 2019.

The authors of the report CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said: “These findings suggest some improvements as of fall 2022 in the trajectory of adolescent mental health and behavioural health, as measured by ED visits.”

The findings came from CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program which gathered data from 3 in 4 emergency rooms across the country.

Previous CDC research on emergency rooms provided an early warning ahead of other benchmarks to track US youth mental health crisis which started even before COVID.

“The pandemic era’s unfathomable number of deaths, pervasive sense of fear, economic instability, and forced physical distancing from loved ones, friends, and communities have exacerbated the unprecedented stresses young people already faced,” Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy wrote in a 2021 advisory on the crisis.

However, the agency also warned that “these findings are limited to emergency rooms, which only provide a window into a fraction of the mental health challenges facing adolescents.”

A hand full of different kinds of medicines can be seen in this picture. — Pixabay/File
A hand full of different kinds of medicines can be seen in this picture. — Pixabay/File

According to CDC, other factors could be driving the improvement in these figures: governments invested in efforts like the 988 crisis lifeline that has received thousands of calls and messages since 2022.

The aim of 988 is to prevent patients to go to emergency rooms and provide them with the help of behavioural health care outside of hospital waiting rooms.

CDC said: “During the spring and summer of 2022, the average weekly emergency room visits for all three categories — mental health conditions, suicide-related behaviours and drug overdoses — did not improve in adolescents compared to 2021.”

Compared to the data of last year, there has been a drop of 11% in average emergency room visits from young people concerning mental health and 12% for suicide-related behaviours and 10% for drug overdoses.

For example, compared to fall 2021, average weekly emergency room visits for overdoses linked to opioids in fall 2022 increased by 10% for female adolescents and 41% for male adolescents.

“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,” said the authors.

The report noted while comparing the data of the 2019 fall, adolescent emergency room visits for suicide-related behaviours were still 7% worse and drug overdoses were 10% worse.

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