Escalating numbers of pediatric patients are presenting to emergency departments seeking care for emotional and behavioral crises. This surge in emergency service needs is a manifestation of both increasing mental health acuity among young people as well as inadequate community mental health resources, particularly in underserved communities. Improving emergent mental health care for children in crisis will require significant patient advocacy to drive systems improvements across treatment settings and enable coordinated approaches that bridge care beyond an emergency setting. Targets for emergency mental health advocacy include implementing universal suicide screening, increasing community mental health resources, development of mobile crisis services, and implementation of emergency department telepsychiatry programs. There are numerous examples of advocacy efforts, often fostered by professional organizations, leading to meaningful change in mental health care systems. As frontline witnesses to the harms of suboptimal mental health care systems, emergency medicine physicians can be critical advocates for change.
- emergency department
- mental health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Emergency Medicine