Children’s Wisconsin reports more emergency room mental health visits

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 5:59 PM CST
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WBAY) - Children’s Wisconsin says it’s seeing more kids test positive for covid-19 and doctors are pushing back on the perception that the virus isn’t as serious for kids.

Pediatricians want to remind everyone that the impact of the pandemic goes well beyond the physical, also affecting a child’s emotional and mental health.

Doctors say mental health challenges that come with uncertainty, remote learning, losing a caregiver, or dealing with covid has had an impact on a child’s well-being.

The number of calls to Children’s Wisconsin Mental and Behavioral Health Access Center has tripled since 2019.

Since 2020, visits to our Emergency Department Trauma Center for mental and behavioral health concerns have increased by 40 percent.

“These usually are significant episodes of anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideations, something that is very much impacting our kids,” said Dr. Smriti Khare, president of primary care at Children’s Wisconsin.

The CDC reports a similar trend happening nationally. Starting in 2020, the number of teenagers going to emergency rooms for mental health reasons bumped up by more than 30 percent.

“It’s definitely an area we’re worried about,” said Dr. Khare.

Because children have been through a lot during the pandemic, Dr. Khare suggests parents check out the Children’s Wisconsin website for support. It’s called

The website offers support to parents to talk to their kids about the pandemic in an age-appropriate way.

“It’s important, I think, for caregivers or parents to really make sure that they’re listening and paying attention to the children. You know, oftentimes kids will act out when they’re feeling anxious and depressed. and so it tends to be the time that we sort of pull away from our kids but listen, be open to that because I think if they can talk to you and you can notice the problems and really we can get them the help that they need,” said Dr. Khare.

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