SAN FRANCISCO– The number of mental health hospitalizations among children and young adults more than doubled from 2016 to 2022, with hospitalizations for anxiety and fear-related disorders, and feeding and eating disorders tripling according to new research titled “The Kids Are Not Alright: Mental Health Care Utilization Among Children and Young Adults, 2016-2022,” from the Clarify Health Institute (CHI), the research arm of Clarify Health. The analysis is based on a national observational sample of health insurance claims for more than 24.5 million children and young adults up to 21 years old from 2016 to 2022.
“Our goal in doing this research is to provide a clearer picture of the mental health crisis among children and young adults,” said Clarify Health Chief Analytics and Privacy Officer Niall Brennan. “These statistics are a stark reminder of the burden our youngest citizens are carrying, and we need to urgently dedicate resources to treating and reversing these issues.”
Significant findings of the CHI’s research include:
- 124% increase in mental health hospital admissions
- 250% increase in hospital admissions for anxiety and fear-related disorders
- 221% increase in hospital admissions for feeding and eating disorders
- 96% increase in hospital admissions for depressive disorders
- 45% increase in mental health emergency department (ED) visits, which includes a 74% increase in ED visits for suicidal ideation, attempts, and other intentional self-harm
- Higher rates of mental health inpatient admissions and ED visits among teenagers and young adults compared to younger children, with the most significant increases among girls aged 12-15
This is the second in a series of pediatric mental health research briefs from the Institute. Last September, CHI released “The Kids Are Not Alright: Pediatric Mental Health Care Utilization from 2016-2021,” which looked at mental health utilization among children with a diagnosed mental illness. This latest research not only widens the lens on age by incorporating young adults, but also analyzes a more general population beyond just those with previously diagnosed conditions, further emphasizing the severity of the mental health crisis plaguing America’s youth. CHI also recently released research analyzing mental health trends among adults on the Clarify Health Blog as part of CHI’s ongoing body of work examining health trends in the US.