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Hospital Pediatrics and the Mental Health Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic and actions designed to reduce infection spread accelerated already worsening rates of depression, trauma, anxiety, and suicidality for children and adolescents. It is now over 18 months since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and Children’s Hospital Association (CH) declared a national state of emergency in children’s mental health, and children and adolescents continue to suffer profoundly. Nationwide the ambulatory system to care for these children and adolescents is overburdened and stretched too thin, resulting in children and teenagers in crisis states not having access to available psychiatric beds and hence increasingly “boarding” in pediatric emergency rooms or medical beds where limited definitive mental health treatment is available. The crisis has taken the harshest toll on those from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups as well as LGBTQ+ children and teenagers. Additionally, more recent evidence has found that hospital care, such as use of restraints, serves to widen disparities with Black children and adolescents being more likely to be physically restrained.

Hospital Pediatrics would like to announce that our May 2024 issue will focus on Hospital Care and the Mental Health Crisis coincident with Mental Health Awareness Month. We will accept articles in all of our regular article types (e.g., original science, perspectives), and our new Health Equity Rounds article type is a particularly excellent opportunity to bring patient and family stories to this challenge. We are particularly interested in submissions in community settings as well as at university-affiliated hospitals addressing:

  • Research to understand and improve hospital-based (emergency department and hospital floors) care for children and adolescents with mental health emergencies.

  • Quality improvement interventions in the emergency department, hospital floor, and community setting that aim to impact patient- or systems-level outcomes (e.g., flow, boarding time) for hospital care.

  • Innovative models to improve care for these children (e.g., telehealth-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy)

  • Research and quality improvement work to reduce disparities in health care and outcomes for this group.

  • Educational innovations to train hospital-based clinicians in job responsibilities that were inadequately addressed in residency and fellowship training even 10 years ago.

  • Interventions to support parent/caregiver mental health and well-being of hospitalized children going through these crises.

  • Programmatic work to support hospital-based clinicians well-being, reduce moral distress in the care of patients where often little therapy can be given directly.

  • Advocacy and health policy work targeting child and adolescent mental health care and access.

While we are excited to receive submissions related to Hospital Care and the Mental Health Crisis, and we are committed to publishing these regularly, please submit by December 8th, 2023 to ensure consideration for our May issue.

*Please note: All submissions must undergo peer review prior to a decision being made as to whether they will publish.

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