(WTAJ) — Hospitals in our region are seeing an increase in teenagers and young children coming into emergency rooms with mental health emergencies and experts say this is becoming a major issue.
The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that 1 in 6 of the nation’s youth aged 6 to 17 are diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year. Even with this large percentage, many hospitals can only take in adults struggling with a mental crisis such as Conemaugh Health System in Cambria County.
Conemaugh Health System Psychiatrist Dr. Madhavi Kandel says there is a lack of resources to provide the help needed, leaving parents and their children frustrated.
“They are upset because we are not able to give them the right help right then, but it’s not because we don’t want it, it’s because we don’t have it,” said Dr. Kandel. “We have to actually divert this patient population to different hospitals because we don’t have those and most of the time we have to divert them to a different county and we do have a couple of hospitals around different counties, but yet we do have more difficulties because we end up having patients especially the child population in our department for days and days.”
While they try and transfer patients to counties that do take youth for an in-patient facility, NAMI Blair County PA Executive Director Aimee Burns said there are not enough beds, leaving parents to reach out to supports systems to see what they can do.
“There is just not enough beds within the state of Pennsylvania, they have even sent them Kentucky, but I was maybe getting calls like that for youth once or twice a month compared to three or five times a week now,” said Burns.
For now, resources like the Conemaugh Health System, are still in need of a solution to make sure our kids and teens get the help they need.
“Funders or our providers really need to look into this issue and really see the real epidermal data to see if we can aid or fund the program for this child and mental health population,” said Dr. Kandel.
Dr. Kandel adds there are many reasons for this increase in youth struggling with mental health.
“Economic crisis going on, a lot of social isolation going on, increase drug use going on, a lot of domestic violence going on, child abuse going on, there’s no structure for the kids,” Dr. Kandel said.
This isn’t a problem that’s going unrecognized as Dubois is coming together for the 12th Annual Walk for Suicide Prevention and Awareness at Dubois City Park on Sunday, Sept. 12.
Resources: 24-hour Crisis Telephone Numbers
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Blair County: 814-889-2141
Cambria County: 877-268-9463
Centre County: 800-643-5432
Huntingdon County: 800-929-9583
Bedford County: 866-611-6467
Clearfield County: 800-341-5040
Inpatient children and adolescent psychiatric units:
Address: Clarion Psychiatric Center, 2 Hospital Drive, Clarion, PA 16214
Phone: 814-226-9545; 800-253-4906
Address: 132 The Meadows Drive, Centre Hall, PA 16828
Phone: 814-364-2161; 800-641-7529
Address: 2575 Boyce Plaza Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15241
Phone: (412) 257-2290