Sound the Alarm for Kids Raises Awareness of National Mental Health Emergency

Sound the Alarm for Kids Raises Awareness of National Mental Health Emergency

Children's hospitals and child health groups call on Congress to act.

WASHINGTON, DC — Representing more than 200 children's hospitals and 77,000 physicians, the Children's Hospital Association (CHA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists (AACAP) have launched Sound the Alarm for Kids urging Congress to enact legislation and increase funding to address a national mental health emergency in children and teens.

Sound the Alarm for Kids has activated an advertising effort with digital ads in the Washington Post and Politico and radio spots on WTOP-FM. Video ads will begin airing shortly. Over 75 groups have pledged their support recognizing children's mental health as a national emergency.

"We are facing a significant national mental health crisis in our children and teens which requires urgent action," said Amy Wimpey Knight, president of CHA. "In the first six months of this year, children's hospitals across the country reported a shocking 45% increase in the number of self-injury and suicide cases in 5- to 17-year-olds compared to the same period in 2019. Together with the AAP, AACAP and other national child health and mental health organizations, we are sounding the alarm on this mental health emergency."

"Children's mental health is suffering. Young people have endured so much throughout this pandemic and while much of the attention is often placed on its physical health consequences, we cannot overlook the escalating mental health crisis facing our patients," said AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP. "We must treat this mental health crisis like the emergency it is, which is why AAP is joining CHA and AACAP in sounding the alarm."

"We were concerned about children's emotional and behavioral health even before the pandemic. The ongoing public health emergency has made a bad situation worse. We are caring for young people with soaring rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, and suicidality that will have lasting impacts on them, their families, their communities, and all our futures. That is why AACAP is joining AAP and CHA in this effort. The time for swift and deliberate action is now," said AACAP President, Gabrielle A. Carlson, M.D.

The rate of mental health emergencies among children have significantly increased during the pandemic:

  • 25% increase in overall mental health-related emergency department visits for 5- to 11-year-olds from 2019 to 2020.
  • 31% increase in overall mental-health-related emergency department visits for 12- to 17-year-olds from 2019 to 2020.
  • 14% increase in mental health emergencies for 5- to 17-year-olds seen at children's hospitals in the first two quarters of 2021 compared to the same time period in 2019.

About Children's Hospital Association

Children’s Hospital Association is the national voice of more than 200 children’s hospitals, advancing child health through innovation in the quality, cost and delivery of care.