This study by FAIR Health on mental health claims for individuals aged 13 to 18 years in March and April 2020 finds:
- Mental health claims doubled, compared to the year before, while medical claims decreased by half, and this continued through November 2020.
- In the Northeast region, there was a 333.93% increase in intentional self-harm, a rate higher than in any other region in any month studied.
- Intentional self-harm as a percentage of all medical claims increased 90.71% from March 2019 to March 2020 and 99.83% from April 2019 to April 2020.
- Overdoses increased 94.91% in March 2020 and 119.31% in April 2020, compared to 2019.
- Substance abuse increased 64.64% in March 2020 and 62.69% in April 2020, compared to the previous year.
- Generalized anxiety disorders increased 93.6%, major depressive disorders increased 83.9%, and adjustment disorders increased 89.7% in April 2020, compared to 2019.
Though children aged 6 years to 12 years were not the focus of this study, they also had changes. There were increases in obsessive-compulsive disorders and tic disorders, while attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders decreased.
The analysis included more than 32 billion private healthcare claim records.
The findings of this study show that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of young people, which has implications for parents, educators, policy makers, providers, and payors, the researchers say.
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