ECRI, a nonprofit patient safety organization, has released its "Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns 2023" report and taking the #1 spot on the annual list is the pediatric mental health crisis.
To support this determination, ECRI pointed to a study showing that rates of anxiety and depression in children age 3 to 17 increased by 29% and 27%, respectively, in 2020 compared with 2016 and the mean weekly number of emergency department visits for adolescent suspected suicide attempts was 39% higher in winter 2021 than in winter 2019.
In a press release, ECRI President and CEO Dr. Marcus Schabacker said, "Even before COVID-19, the impact of social media, gun violence and other socioeconomic factors were causing elevated rates of depression and anxiety in children. The challenges caused by the pandemic turned a bad situation into a crisis. We’re approaching a national public health emergency.”
Dheerendra Kommala, MD, ECRI chief medical officer was quoted in the release as saying, "As with many medical issues, this crisis is disproportionately affecting historically marginalized communities. Structural barriers and bias block access to high-quality mental healthcare for youth of color and LGBTQ youth despite the fact they are more likely to experience depression and anxiety and attempt suicide at higher rates."
In the report, ECRI shares several recommendations to address the pediatric mental health crisis, including performing universal mental health screenings during every office and hospital visit and providing additional support to address social determinants of health.
Proem is a strong advocate for these and other initiatives, including:
- Performing proper, consistent and comprehensive screening of all patients, including children.
- Reimbursing providers for comprehensive screening.
- Getting the tools into the hands of clinicians that better enable them to perform proper, structured interviews and obtain accurate results that get to the root cause of an individual's mental illness and help determine an appropriate path forward for patients.
"Proem is working to ensure the mental health of children and adolescents is measured, monitored and nurtured in the same way as their physical health," said CEO John Letter. "Our solution delivers the data that supports more accurate decisions concerning mental illness diagnosis and treatment. Giving providers the right answers at the right time to enable the right mental health outcomes is why we believe 'healthy minds start with Proem.'"
Other concerns on ECRI's list that should be of interest to behavioral health professionals include:
- Impact on clinicians expected to work outside their scope of practice and competencies.
- Consequences of poor care coordination for patients with complex medical conditions.
- Preventable harm due to omitted care or treatment.
You can download the ECRI report here.