Pediatric Mental Health, Treatment, and COVID-19

October 6, 2020

An expert discusses trends in pediatric mental health and receipt of treatment.

A recent study published by the National Center for Health Statistics found disparities among US children in the receipt of treatment for mental health disorders.

According to the data, older children (12-17 years), boys, non-Hispanic white children, and those from less urban areas had a greater likelihood of receiving any treatment—which range from medication to counseling by a professional.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Benjamin Zablotsky, PhD, Health Statistician, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explained that capturing receipt of treatment offers a better understanding of how children receive care throughout the country.

“Ideally, we want to use a dataset that is timely and nationally representative,” he said.

In reference to the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Zablotsky underscored the importance of continuing to collect similar data among children. Since the pandemic has upended daily life, especially in the healthcare sector, it is especially necessary that mental health treatment behaviors from 2020 can be compared with the previous year.

Zablotsky also explained that the survey from this year now includes questions about delaying care because of the pandemic.

“Once that data is available, it would be curious to see if in fact there were children in need of services who couldn’t get them due to COVID,” he noted.

He also suggested that the rise of telemedicine might allow a standard for mental health therapy to exist. Although this question falls outside the purview of the CDC’s upcoming report, he still stressed that it would still be useful to know.