This article on NBC news, More kids are showing up in ERs (Emergency Rooms) with mental health crises, reports large increases across the country.
Dr. Anna Abrams, a pediatrician and researcher at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, finds the numbers both shocking and disheartening.
In the 5-year period from 2012 to 2016, when looking at ER mental health admissions in 45 children’s hospitals, they found the following increases:
- 48 % in white children
- 64% in non-Hispanic black children
- 77% increase in Hispanic children
with about a 55 % increase overall.
Dr. Abrams and her colleagues presented these findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference in earlier this month.
Other than the very large increases, there is something else to be concerned about: the researchers say they aren’t sure why we are seeing these increases, speculating it “could be due to the scarcity of mental health professionals who can help children” and “People are also talking more openly about depression, anxiety and other common mental health problems and that may make parents feel more comfortable about seeking help for their children.”
While these are very valid reasons, we really do need to be incorporating nutritional psychiatry (a term coined in 2015) and functional medicine (Dr. Mark Hyman is one of the leaders in functional medicine) into these discussions, studies and conferences. Other than poor diets and nutritional deficiencies we need to be considering stress, exposure to toxins, poor gut health and increasing Wifi exposure, to name a few.
If we look at diet alone, there is so much recent research supporting the connection between diet and mental health. Here are two of many new studies:
- Is there an association between diet and depression in children and adolescents? A systematic review
Despite some contradictory results, overall there was support for an association between healthy dietary patterns or consumption of a high-quality diet and lower levels of depression or better mental health. Similarly, there was a relationship between unhealthy diet and consumption of low-quality diet and depression or poor mental health.
- A Pro-Inflammatory Diet Is Associated With an Increased Odds of Depression Symptoms Among Iranian Female Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study
These data suggest that Iranian adolescent females eating a pro-inflammatory diet…had greater odds of having at least moderate depressive symptoms.
And here are just a few other factors to consider:
- Integrative Medicine Approach to Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety – in this case study gluten removal was a big factor
- GABA for children: ADHD, focus issues, irritability, anxiety and tantrums With this pre-teen young girl, her mom reports that “She’s almost like different child. GABA has truly changed our life.“
How do we get this nutritional psychiatry research and case studies into the hands of those who can change actually policy and the way mental health is addressed? I believe it has to be a grass-roots effort from the bottom up and I have these suggestions:
- share this blog and the research with your doctor and/or allied health practitioner
- reach out to study authors, journalists and legislators and share research and success stories like the above, and your own personal results
- if you’re a practitioner, write blogs like this sharing the good results you see with your clients and patients – with researchers, journalists and legislators
- share in forums and on social media, and with your neighbors, friends and family
- comment on blogs like this – with success stories in your family or with clients – so more people get to see what really is working
Every little bit helps! I’d love to hear your ideas too.