Boy teenager covers his face with his hands

Declaration of mental health ‘emergency’ among children and teens brings calls for more early intervention

It’s official: the rising rates of mental health problems among the youth today, made worse under the COVID-19 pandemic, constitutes a national emergency, three of the country’s top associations of psychiatrists, pediatricians, and doctors announced last week.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association issued a joint statement on Wednesday declaring a national emergency of worsening “child and adolescent mental health” that is “inextricably tied to the stress brought on by COVID-19 and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.”

While the emergency declaration sends a strong message about the state of children’s mental health, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action. But it underscores the urgent need to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health distress early on in a child’s life, where many psychiatric disorders actually begin, experts at Northeastern University and Mills College say.

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College of Science
Psychology