Number of young people seeking mental health hospitalization doubles during COVID – report

Two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the younger population, with the number of children hospitalized for mental health problems doubling during the outbreak, according to a Tuesday report from the Israel Union of Social Workers.

The poll of 458 social workers across the country found that they had noticed a dramatic increase in the number of young people in psychological distress, while mental health services could not cope with the burden, forcing many to wait long months for treatment.

Of the respondents, 76 percent reported an increase in the number of children dealing with anxiety and depression, and 67% said there was an increase in the number of self-harm among young people. Forty-four percent reported an increase in the number of suicides among minors, including attempted suicides, suicidal thoughts, or actual suicides. More than two-thirds, 69%, noted an increase in emotional or mental problems among young people.

Nearly all social workers, 93%, reported a significant increase in the wait times for their patients to receive mental health care since the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020. Of these, 45% said that young patients had to wait more than a month to be hospitalized to be admitted and 25% said the waiting period could be more than three months. According to 32% of care providers, young people have to wait 3-6 months for a psychiatric diagnosis, while 25% said the wait could be more than half a year. For youth seeking mental health care at a local clinic, the wait can be six months to a year, say 41.5% of social workers.

For the specific problems of eating disorders, 45% of social workers said that young people have to wait at least a month to be treated and 35% said the wait is more than half a year, in their experience.

Inbal Hermoni, head of the social workers’ union, said cooperation between health, welfare, education and finance ministers “is not working well enough today,” the Dvar newspaper reported.

Screenshot of video of Inbal Hermoni, president of the Union of Social Workers. (YouTube)

She criticized the way decisions were made, saying they were not based on needs in the field.

Hermoni urged to prevent further deterioration of children’s mental health by initiating a program aimed at identifying children with mental health problems and providing primary care, creating accessible care in the community, shortening of waiting times for treatment and “a huge investment of resources. ”

The health ministry said treatment wait times have increased for all populations during the COVID outbreak, but more so for children and young people, according to a statement from the Ynet website.

The ministry said it had reached an agreement with the Treasury Department to expand mental health services with special funding for HMOs and details will be made available in the near future. Talks are underway with the Treasury Department to increase the number of hospital beds available, the statement said, and after approval to fund more, some beds will be set aside for the treatment of eating disorders.

The social worker’s poll came as Israel faces its fifth wave of COVID infections, with the daily number of files reaching record numbers and officials — including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — telling the public to prepare for even higher numbers.

Nearly 40,000 students are currently sick with COVID-19, and nearly 85,000 staff and students are in quarantine due to infection or exposure to a known carrier, the Department of Education said. The ministry remains committed to keeping schools open as much as possible rather than ordering a sweeping closure and the use of distance learning as has happened in 2020-2021.

Ran Cohen, the principal of a school in Tel Aviv, told Army Radio on Tuesday that closing schools would be a “disaster and in practice a return to the disaster of the past year and a half,” as the education system was shut down for extended periods of time. time and students studied remotely.

“The children came back to us from the lockdown, different than we knew them,” he said.

An elementary school classroom is empty after Israel closes schools pending a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Tel Aviv, Sept. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Educational psychologist Liat Dotan told the station that there are now many behavioral problems, including suicidal thoughts, in children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to contain the virus.

“We called it the tsunami after the shutdown,” she said. “Children should, as far as possible, find anchors of safety and belonging and make an effort to get back to the routine,” she said.

On Monday, however, the Secondary School Teachers Association sent Ran Erez a letter to Bennett demanding that middle and high school studies be moved online, accusing the government of losing control of the pandemic.

While Erez acknowledged the drawbacks of investigating via the Zoom application, Erez warned against what he called the current “anarchy and pandemonium” and said that remote investigations would be the “lesser evil”.

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