Increase in Pediatric ED Mental Health Visits in Canada


A study carried out by BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver found a 47% increase in the number of pediatric emergency department (PED) visits related to mental health between 2003 and 2012.  This staggering increase compared to a 9% increase in total PED visits.  The study, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, also found that 31%-37% of all mental health PED admissions were return visits. The results suggest “the need to reassess the allocation of health resources to optimize acute management, risk assessment, and linkage to mental health services upon disposition from the PED.”

Mapelli, E., Black, T., & Doan, Q. (2015). Trends in Pediatric Emergency Department Utilization for Mental Health-Related Visits. The Journal of pediatrics. (Abstract)


  1. hmmmm…perhaps what they really need to do is examine the level of prescription of psych meds to kids and the “side effects” (read “primary effects”) these meds have in creating highly distressing symptoms and, in fact, medical emergencies.

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  2. “31%-37% of all mental health PED admissions were return visits”

    Psychiatry’s doing a great job as usual. Who wants to guess what fraction of these visits goes as follows:
    “Doc, we were last time because Johnny felt a bit sad and couldn’t concentrate at school. We gave him the pills but his depression is worse and he got fat and doesn’t want to talk to his friends anymore.”
    “Oh, that’s his mental illness, he’ll have to learn how to live with it. Have some more pills.”

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  3. I don’t really understand this article’s claims of what needs to be reassessed. And agree with others here that what needs to be acknowledged is that the ADHD drugs and antidepressants can CAUSE the “bipolar” symptoms.

    And the “bipolar” drugs, including the “antipsychotics,” can CAUSE both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” The negative symptoms of “schizophrenia” can be caused by neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome. And the positive symptoms of “schizophrenia” can be caused with any combination, or extremely high dose of one class of either the antipsychotics, antidepressants, benzos, or other drugs via what’s known as anticholinergic toxidrome.

    I’m quite certain PED could be greatly reduced worldwide if the medical community stopped force medicaring children with the mind altering, and “mental illness” creating, psychiatric drugs.

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  4. I think that people are missing the real importance of this study. While it is certainly true that children are being over diagnosed and medicated, a major concern should be why children and families are showing increased signs of distress. There is clearly something going very wrong with our society when so many children are being brought to emergency rooms with emotional problems.
    The increased use of the psychiatric industry is not just because psychiatry is trying to drum up business. There are many indications that our societies are just not providing the type of holding environments that families and individuals need. Speak to any elementary school teacher, and they will all tell you of the growing distress and behaviour problems in children. As long as our society continues to be dysfunctional, psychiatry will be called upon to control the distress.

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  5. ” The increased use of the psychiatric industry is not just because psychiatry is trying to drum up business. ”

    Oh, but- YES! –
    The increased use of the psychiatric industry is proof of the business they have drummed up.

    Where do you think these kids’ parents got the idea to cart little Johnny off to the ED when he is acting out, looking depressed, being oppositional/defiant?? From their kids’ teachers? Their hairdressers? The pervasive direct to consumer adverts from the,*we gotta pill for everything* companies who spend more on marketing than research & development? Their pediatricians? A homeless veteran collecting money in a can at a busy intersection?

    Is there someone who wouldn’t refer parents to seek psychiatric evaluation and treatment for a kid who is bothering some authority figure in his life by pushing his buttons? Only someone who is completely isolated from society– living in a hut or a van down by the river, perhaps;– only someone that would be almost impossible to find, would not urge parents to seek psychiatric care for their “abnormally acting” kid. Rational people with a solid bit of knowledge about the dangers of child psychiatry– are also almost impossible to find.

    Speak to any elementary school teacher and he can recite verbatim the early warning signs of severe mental illness in children– while failing to recognize that they are, in fact, posing the greatest risk to a kid’s stability and sanity by forcing him to behave in ways that are completely incompatible with his basic needs.

    No, child development is barely touched on these days– as it has become so much more important to indoctrinate teachers to spot those early sings of *mental illness* and to pressure parents to deal with their child’s budding *mental illness*. And for those stubborn, rebellious parents who fail to heed the expert opinion of an elementary school teacher, a quick trip to the ED when little Johnny is disrupting his structured environment , lets them off the hook– .

    Failure to act immediately, may result in losing custody of little Johnny– or being accused of enabling the next school shooter.

    I think you may have it backwards– the sooner psychiatry is declared dysfunctional , the better the likelihood that society will regain some, if not all of it’s functional capacity.

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