Children in the United States have experienced a devastating decline in mental health, in what the U.S. surgeon general called an “urgent public health crisis”. According to the CDC, the rates of suicide, self harm, anxiety and depression have been trending up, even before the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, kids’ mental health only worsened, and even as the pandemic may be approaching an end, the problem of mental health remains.
On Sunday, May 8, 60 Minutes® aired a segment in which they visited Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a community trying to help its kids navigate a mental health crisis. Wisconsin has the fifth highest increase of adolescent self-harm and attempted suicide. We encourage you to watch the 13-minute segment in full at CBSNews.com.
One of the stories we found most poignant was that of Austin Bruenger, a 9-year-old from Milwaukee. When Austin told his mother he was having suicidal thoughts, she helped him find treatment. Bruenger is now in regular outpatient therapy and happy to be making progress. He has been able to return to school and be with his friends.
In a 60 Minutes Overtime segment released online after the episode, the journalists sat in on a therapy session with an 11-year-old girl named Abby and her mother. The segment shows the intake process as Abby and her mother arrive seeking help at a Mental Health Walk-In Clinic specifically opened for kids and teens in crisis, then transitions to a treatment session six weeks later to check in on Abby’s progress.
The stories of Austin and Abby highlight how important it is to destigmatize mental health so that families are not afraid to get help for their children. The support of their parents made it possible to begin therapy and the road to recovery. Additionally, removing barriers to treatment helps patients get help. In the case of Austin, his pediatrician now has a therapist in her office, which made it accessible for Austin to get regular outpatient therapy for his depression.
Early intervention matters. Mental health issues among children and young adults are tragically common. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
- 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health condition each year
- Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14
- 75% of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 24
AZZLY® is dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health conditions. We work closely with mental health and substance use providers to streamline their workflows so they may serve more in need and achieve better outcomes. Our solution AZZLY Rize™ is an all-in-one electronic health record, patient management, and revenue cycle management system, purpose-built to serve mental healthcare providers.
Note: This article was originally published in May 2022. Click here to view the September 2022 segment “U.S. kids grappling with mental health crisis made worse by the pandemic“, where 60 Minutes continued their reporting on the mental health crisis in Wisconsin with footage of Abby and Austin who were included in the May 2022 segment.