Are Wyoming Youth Having More Mental Health ER Visits

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CASPER, Wyo. Wyoming Medical Center doctors treated 643 children in the ER for a mental health crisis in the past two years.

Those numbers come close to a child a day.

"The numbers are almost exactly the same year over year so we're not seeing an increase but we're not seeing a decrease either." Said Mandy Cepeda of the Wyoming Medical Center.

Kids are being treated for many problems, including panic or anxiety attacks, episodes of schizophrenia, and attempts at suicide.

Here in Natrona County, there is one common diagnosis.

"So we are seeing a lot of alcohol-related intoxication cases"

The CDC reports one in five children ages three to 17 have a diagnosable mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, yet only 20 percent seek care.

"We've generally seen a continuous flow of youth who are meeting criteria for inpatient care which would mean they were suicidal or post a danger to themselves." Explained Emily Genoff, the Director of Business at the Wyoming Behavioral Institue.

There are no definite answers as to why the numbers of youth mental health crisis are high, but people who work with children have a few ideas.

"Several years ago there was a huge cut in direct services for prevention mental health and substance abuse prevention funding in Wyoming." Said Youth Crisis Center's Executive Director, Traci Blevins.

Belvins feels the cuts could be a cause for a large number of youth in mental health crises.

Child advocates suggest talking about mental health with loved ones before it turns into a crisis.