Rauner is used to fixing broken bones and bringing down fevers in the emergency room.
“When the pandemic started we saw a decrease in all patients coming in, pediatric patients in general for anything,” Rauner said.
“Things from depression to anxiety, suicide attempt or suicidal ideations, anger, aggression, all kinds of eating disorders now. Mood disorders coming into the emergency department. So, across the United States, to be honest with you, but we really started feeling the trend obviously in our home Beaumont for sure,” Rauner said.
There has been a strain on child psychologists and therapists due to the COVID pandemic. Parents with nowhere else to turn are looking to emergency room doctors and nurses for help.
“They’ll come in and they’ll say that they want to hurt themselves, or they want to die, or they’re not good enough. And it really comes down to talking to them about that. Are they upset about something and they’re just using those words because they’ve heard them, or are they really upset to the point where, no, this child really needs to sit down and talk to a therapist,” Rauner said.
Across the country, the CDC reports mental health emergency room visits for teens 12 to 17 years old surged 31% in 2020. The pandemic has been especially hard on young girls. Emergency room visits for teenage girls who attempted suicide went up 51% in 2021 as compared to 2019.
The crisis is taking its toll on families and frontline workers in healthcare who aren’t always trained in how to help. Rauner said one way to help your child is to make changes to the child’s daily schedule.
“You got to eat well, you have to get enough sleep and you need to stay on a sleep routine which means you need a sleep hygiene routine. You need to put your electronics down, you need to get yourself in bed, you need to clear your mind, you need to find a routine that you can do every day so that your body prepares itself to sleep at that time,” Rauner said.
Rauner said you should also know the signs to look out for.
“All ages are a little bit different, but a couple of really generic things that you can look for in your kids is if they have a sudden change in their sleep pattern, like all of a sudden you’re noticing they can’t fall asleep or if they’re sleeping really long,” Rauner said.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, inpatient psychiatric visits are now surging too. The agency tracked nearly 2,000 visits before the end of June.