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Local mental health experts say childhood national health crisis has been brewing for years

Local News

LITTLE CHUTE, Wis. (WFRV) – Children’s mental health has been declining rapidly since the start of the pandemic causing top doctors to call this a national crisis.

Dr. Michael Altekruse, the Mental Health Coordinator for the Neenah Joint School District, said, “The kids that were struggling before the pandemic are probably struggling even more now and the kids that were doing well before the pandemic are keeping their heads above water.”

The Centers for Disease Control and prevention say between February and March of 2021, ER visits for suspected suicide attempts were up 51% compared to 2019.

Experts say in large part this is due to the pandemic and social media use.

“I mean if there are kids taking selfies and trying to promote themselves as some perfect ideal then that can be a real problem,” said Dr. Altekruse.

Top national doctors are calling childhood mental health a crisis but locally experts say this issue has been boiling under the surface for quiet some time.

Dr. Altekruse said, “It’s been a crisis since the dawn of adolescence quiet frankly it’s just been enhanced in this period of time.”

Nationally First Lady Jill Biden said the White House is giving more money to mental health programs to try and see the country out of this crisis.

“Our mental health problem is, is so great, and the needs are so great, especially after this pandemic and, you know, I knew Joe, Joe would see that,” said Dr. Biden. “And he came up with his plan to you know give more money to mental health and that’s what he pledged to do, and so it’s, that’s what gives me hope that our nation is starting to heal.”

Providers said using the upstream approach to mental health to support your kids before a mental health crisis occurs is key.

“Really focusing in on the positive things about themselves, what are the things they do well? And making sure that we emphasize that and spending a lot of time with them even if they don’t want to spend time with you,” said Dr. Altekruse.

He said spending time taking interest in something your child likes is an important way to help build up their family bonds and positive mental health.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK [1-800-273-8255] or use the newly designated 988 number for mental health crises.

If your child is in need of assistance talking to their school counselor about what resources they have available is another good place to start.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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