Pediatrician: The pandemic is taking an alarming toll on children

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(CNN)Almost a year into the pandemic, what began as a public health emergency is turning into a mental health crisis among our nation’s children and adolescents as they struggle with social isolation, grief, and the switch to remote learning. It is becoming increasingly clear that this crisis will endure well beyond the pandemic.

It’s why recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association launched an awareness campaign to highlight the escalating crisis and share ideas about what government and communities can do to ensure families have access to mental health services.

Mental and behavioral health concerns in children and teens were on the rise even before the pandemic. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, suicide had reached a record high — becoming the second-leading cause of death for those ages 10 to 24 in 2017.

Since the pandemic began, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the proportion of pediatric emergency room visits for mental health have increased even more sharply. From April to October 2020, these visits increased 31% for children between ages 12 to 17 and 24% for those ages 5 to 11 compared to the same period in 2019.

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