Digital tool screens kids for mental health issues at Children’s Wisconsin

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people nationwide. A new digital tool at Children’s Wisconsin Hospital in Milwaukee is helping doctors identify any problems right away. Dr. Michelle Pickett at Children’s sees it all, but recently she’s noticed a trend in patients coming to the pediatric emergency room. “I would say over the past couple of years- specifically since the pandemic started– we have seen the number of kids coming in for mental health issues increase a lot,” Pickett said. It’s why she introduced a 5-question, iPad-based screening to help address possible mental health issues in every child 10 and older who walks through the emergency room doors. “With our screening, we’re also catching patients who are coming in – as you mentioned – with a broken bone or with abdominal pain or something completely unrelated and with our screening that we do, we have now kind of revealed that they’re having some mental health issues too, “Pickett said. Once screened, doctors are able to connect families right away with a wide range of mental and behavioral health resources that are both inpatient and outpatient. “Our hope is that when we are providing these outpatient resources, they are using them and it is reducing the recidivism rate of returning to the emergency room,” said Dr. Allison McCool, a social work manager on the hospital’s new crisis response team. Pickett said the tool, while simple, can go a long way in saving lives. “Every child matters and we do not want one child – we do not want any child – to kill themselves,” she said. “affects so many people we just want to save every kid we can.” If you or someone you know needs to talk to an expert, the national suicide prevention lifeline is 800-273-8255 (TALK). Starting in July, dialing 988 will connect you with lifesaving resources.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people nationwide. A new digital tool at Children’s Wisconsin Hospital in Milwaukee is helping doctors identify any problems right away.

Dr. Michelle Pickett at Children’s sees it all, but recently she’s noticed a trend in patients coming to the pediatric emergency room.

“I would say over the past couple of years- specifically since the pandemic started– we have seen the number of kids coming in for mental health issues increase a lot,” Pickett said.

It’s why she introduced a 5-question, iPad-based screening to help address possible mental health issues in every child 10 and older who walks through the emergency room doors.

“With our screening, we’re also catching patients who are coming in – as you mentioned – with a broken bone or with abdominal pain or something completely unrelated and with our screening that we do, we have now kind of revealed that they’re having some mental health issues too, “Pickett said.

Once screened, doctors are able to connect families right away with a wide range of mental and behavioral health resources that are both inpatient and outpatient.

“Our hope is that when we are providing these outpatient resources, they are using them and it is reducing the recidivism rate of returning to the emergency room,” said Dr. Allison McCool, a social work manager on the hospital’s new crisis response team.

Pickett said the tool, while simple, can go a long way in saving lives.

“Every child matters and we do not want one child – we do not want any child – to kill themselves,” she said. “[Suicide] affects so many people we just want to save every kid we can. “

If you or someone you know needs to talk to an expert, the national suicide prevention lifeline is 800-273-8255 (TALK). Starting in July, dialing 988 will connect you with lifesaving resources.

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