More teens in mental crisis boarded in hospital ERs during pandemic.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation it imposed took a dramatic toll on kids’ mental health, increasing the demand for services in an already overburdened system.

As a result, many kids found themselves being “boarded” in emergency departments as they awaited care, according to a new study conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital. The average wait was nearly five days without specialized treatment.

“This is a huge problem nationwide,” said Dr. Jennifer Havens. She is a professor and chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine in New York City.

“The demand for mental health services has dramatically increased due to COVID-19, and the capacity for inpatient psychiatric care for kids is marginal at best, so we are seeing a backlog for inpatient and outpatient mental health services,” said Havens, who has no ties to the new study.

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