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A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that school-age kids from 10 to 17 experience more emergency department (ED) visits during the school year than during summer break for behavioral health conditions such as depressive disorders, suicidal ideation, or self-harm. For some disorders, the visits double during the school year. In communities, the lack of mental health resources for kids in immediate need is clear. One emergency medicine physician at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California, said in a news report that the number of kids seeking psychiatric emergency care has jumped from about 30 a month to 30 per day. Even children as young as 5 years old are arriving in the ED expressing suicidal ideation, but there’s few places for them to get help. EDs are simply not equipped to provide the specialized, crisis-level care they need.

Urgent care offerings: Behavioral health urgent care, although a small branch of the specialty, can provide initial assessments and brief, solution-focused counseling on a walk-in basis. For example, Xpress Wellness Urgent Care offers a primary care behavioral health consultation model that integrates behavioral health services. The Richland County Mental Health & Recovery Board in Ohio operates a dedicated center with immediate access for initial assessments and brief counseling on a walk-in basis five days a week.

More Kids Show Up in EDs With Behavioral Health Emergencies