Kids in Crisis: Vermont's rising mental health demand

(WCAX)
Published: Jun. 27, 2019 at 8:43 AM EDT
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Thursday night on the Channel 3 News, we're investigating challenges for kids in Vermont's mental health system.

More families are seeking help. But are there more resources?

Kids ending up in emergency rooms around the state are in crisis. From October 2017 to October 2018, 350 kids came through the University of Vermont Medical Center for psychiatric help.

Of those, 10 of them waited for a bed at some place like the Brattleboro Retreat, spending about four days there on average.

But health officials say the demand for help is growing.

We spoke with Dr. David Rettew, a child psychiatrist and medical director with the Vermont Department of Mental Health and he says he thinks we are seeing serious mental health issues.

A report to the Legislature this year from the department said Vermont "has seen an increase in the acuity of clinical need for children and their families."

Rettew says that means more kids are showing up to the ER in crisis.

Anxiety, depression and suicide or attempts of suicide are all increasing. He says there are many theories why, but very real repercussions.

"The need is going up but the capacity is sometimes pretty flat or sometimes going the other direction, so that just sort of sets up these horrible bottlenecks that we often encounter," Rettew said.