Skip to comments.Children’s Hospital Colorado declares mental health state of emergency as suicide attempts rise
Posted on 05/25/2021 10:59:14 PM PDT by george76
Suicide attempts are rising and emergency room visits for mental health crises were up 90% last month. Mental health experts are asking for help.
Colorado children are attempting suicide and arriving in emergency rooms in psychiatric crisis at levels never seen in this state, while abuse of alcohol and drugs to cope with mental health struggles is also on the rise.
The youth mental health crisis has escalated to the point this spring that hospital beds are full and more parents are sending kids out of state for treatment, according to a Children’s Hospital Colorado panel of experts who sent up a flare for help Tuesday.
The hospital system, with a main campus in Aurora as well as branches in Colorado Springs, Highlands Ranch and Broomfield, declared a “pediatric mental health state of emergency.”
In Aurora, the hospital’s 52-bed emergency department has been overrun with children in psychiatric crisis. Mental health emergency visits were up 90% last month compared with April 2019. The hospital’s transport team is seeing three or four kids each week who have just tried to kill themselves.
The top overall reason children arrive in the emergency department is a suicide attempt. And on any given day, 12 to 24 children are waiting for an in-patient psychiatric bed to become available.
In Colorado Springs, the hospital built a 24-bed emergency department three years ago and dedicated six locked rooms for behavioral health treatment. Now, children in mental health crisis are filling 12 or 13 beds, and staff are clearing out rooms in the medical units to make them safe for children who arrive saying they are going to kill themselves.
“The current system is simply unsustainable and it’s failing our children,” said Heidi Baskfield, vice president of population health and advocacy at Children’s. “Our children need us to rally together.”
Counties, schools and mental health providers have created “workarounds to a system in our state that simply cannot handle the volume nor the acuity of demand that we are facing,” she said.
Children’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Brumbaugh, who has practiced medicine for more than 20 years, said that in the last 15 months he has seen a demand in children’s mental health care like nothing he’s ever experienced. Brumbaugh began to cry as he spoke of a dad whose 9th-grade son recently tried to kill himself after not making the baseball team near the close of an isolating first year of high school.
The boy is the same age as Brumbaugh’s son, who also plays baseball.
“Our kids have run out of resilience,” the doctor said. “Their tank is empty.” Then he apologized for crying: “I’m sorry, but this is what we are feeling as caregivers every day.”
In Summit County, where the community is fed up after mourning many youth suicides in recent years, including the death of an 11-year-old in 2017, residents pay into a mental health fund that finances therapy for anyone who needs it but can’t afford it.
As of April, the county was paying for therapy for 87 children. That’s more mental health vouchers than were issued for kids in all of 2020, said county Commissioner Tamara Pogue.
The fund generates about $2 million each year, which is not nearly enough to pay for the demand, Pogue said. She called on Gov. Jared Polis’ administration to produce a detailed roadmap for rural communities to build up their own mental health systems — from eating disorder and substance abuse treatment to subsidized mental health therapy.
“Unless we make even deeper and more significant investments, … we will continue to lose more children,” she said. “That is something that I simply cannot tolerate for my community or any community in Colorado.”
Children’s Hospital has ramped up services, hired more mental health staff and is working to add more beds, but the changes aren’t coming fast enough to help the children flooding into the emergency department, Baskfield said.
At the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, the hospital is increasing its in-patient psychiatric beds from 18 to 26 by next March. The campus is also doubling its partial hospitalization program that treats kids for several hours each day, and bumping up beds in its eating disorder unit from 12 to 20.
In the last several years, Colorado has seen 47 facilities close their doors to youth in mental health crisis, Baskfield said. “At a time when we are seeing volumes increase, severity increase and overall need, the system that is meant to be in place to serve these kids does not only not exist, but those who are attempting to do this work are currently under water,” Baskfield said.
But building more beds isn’t going to solve the crisis, and several experts on the panel said Colorado needs to create an integrated youth mental health system. The state needs to tap into federal pandemic recovery funds from the American Rescue Plan to build such a system, including a patient transfer center that would help hospitals communicate with other hospitals and help families find an available bed, doctors said. The state also needs mental health counselors in all schools, including rural areas, they said.
“We can’t depend on building beds to get us out of it,” said Dr. Mike DiStefano, chief medical officer for Children’s southern region based in Colorado Springs. “If we are building acute beds, we are losing the battle against suicide and behavioral health problems with our teens. We need to be intervening prior to the crisis.”
Colorado lawmakers have proposed spending from $400 million to $500 million of the federal aid on mental health.
For several years, suicide has been the leading cause of death in Colorado for children age 10 and older.
The isolation and stress of the pandemic have exacerbated mental health struggles, leading to higher rates of substance abuse in kids and teens and more diagnoses of eating disorders, said Dr. Jenna Glover, director of psychological training at Children’s.
More than ever, she said, children are turning to alcohol and drugs to escape feelings or try to find a sense of control, rather than asking for help because they think they will cause more stress for their parents, she said.
She suggested that parents check in with their children and ask about their mental health at least once every month.
“My largest concern is with the influx of mental health problems that we’re seeing and the demand on the system, kids will not get the treatment they need and they will have chronic mental health problems for years that will impact their opportunities in life,” she said.
Makary is professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and ...
Colorado Ping ( Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from the list.)
How about they stop locking everyone down, forcing masks everywhere, forced vaccine threats and putting a stop to the 24/7 media fear porn? That would help a lot.
The Real Reason why kids are not allowed to go to school (Hint: it is not covid)..
The likelihood of children being back in school is dictated by unionized government teacher Union thugs..
There is a solution.. De-unionize the public schools.
Child suicides related to the lockdowns was evident a year ago, but the silence from both the media and medical community was deafening.
Despite the “rank & file”, the medical community is corrupt.
Probably need to push more tranny stuff and suggest kids are in the wrong body and stuff, and that they must transform. Oh, and by the way make sure no mental health doctors are allowed to suggest the kids get therapy to get over the (media induced) belief they are in the wrong body.
Yeah, that’ll probably help put a stop to this suicide problem (sarc tag needed for slow folks)
THE world is so screwed up (now that the globalists at John Hopkins have everything under control) that death seems 10 times better than having to suffer through one more of their idiotic staged event 201 pandemics
Feel horrible for the kids and families, but doesn’t appear as though there is one Democrat Governor that has a clue.
Colorado Republicans want to curtail Polis’ pandemic powers. Democrats won’t allow it.
This is what he was allowed to do as of last year and continued to do.
Emergency powers: 9 things Colorado Gov. Jared Polis can do now
George Brauchler: Gov. Jared Polis should lift all restrictions and open Colorado, now
We live in a world in which innocence is under fire, faith and spirituality are undervalued and ridiculed - or distorted and radicalized, gender equality means that boys are devalued, parents go to court to allow/promote their young children having 'sex reassignment', staring at a phone or computer has taken the place of normal human interaction - including within families, societal 'achievement' is valued way more than being a good parent, and cynicism is rampant. It's not surprising that there are growing numbers of despondent children.
Add to this that pharmacological therapy of children with antidepressants can lower their threshold for suicide.
How about they stop telling them they are evil, racist, privileged colonizers who are the root of everything wrong in the world? How about they stop telling them they have no future, the world is going to be destroyed by climate change, and it's all the fault of evil Americans? How about they stop confusing them about gender, forcing them to go against their hardwired emotions and behaviors? How about they stop attacking all of their heroes? How about they let them be kids?
Lockdowns are doing this…
Kids need to be kids and need to socialize. Not locked up at home for over a year now
How about the schools removing the mask mandates first?
You try wearing a mask 6 to 8 hours a day while teaching.
True on every point.
In CO they have been a ticking time bomb. When did they first legalize marijuana? Babies developing in the womb continously bathed in the highest levels of thc i have seen. Then, what kind of mothers are these without ant emotional self control medicated into psychological shut down.
Not much shocks me, but i have seen those tox reports.
However, in this case this looks like its a for the kids money grab.
Colorado is the worst State I ever lived in. Its like a different planet.
They need more liberal/ progressive policies... that’s the answer. Has nothing to do with woke social justice gender bender ideas promoted by big tech loving democrat politicians.
There is a solution.. De-unionize the public schools.
It must be done. The union is pandering to the liberal left and all other Democrats who see virtue in sex changes of infants and “know” they can teach all children to be victims of anything the Union desires...meanwhile we who insist on history of the USA, civics, science and mathematics, arts, etc must develop our own school system.
We must separate ourselves, our lives and lively hoods and make our own nation based on the Constitution and reasonable laws.
I’m sure middle management across America feels the same way when they have to endure mandatory BML racist training lectures from no nothing affirmative action hires.
“Feel horrible for the kids and families,”
The kids are growing up in the wilderness of the internet.
The internet, Instagram. Facebook, etc are a much bigger part of this than anyone silll be allowed to admit or talk about. Can’t upset the tech companies, can we?
It’s like video games. Corporations pay millions to buy a 30 second ad slot during the Super Bowl, to sway consumers, yet kids spending hours and hours playing video games are unaffected by the violence in them.
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