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  • Publication
    Increased Mental Health Presentations by Children Aged 5-15 at Emergency Departments during the first 12 months of COVID-19
    Aims To determine changes in mental health (MH) attendance at Emergency Departments (ED) by children aged five to 15 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods Analysis of MH presentations during the first year of the pandemic compared with prior year for three public paediatric EDs serving the greater Dublin area with a paediatric population of 430,000. Results Overall, ED attendance during the 12 months to 28th February 2021 was 34.3% below prior year, while MH presentations were 8.9% above prior year. MH attendances initially decreased by 26.8% (2020: 303; 2019: 414) during the first four months of the pandemic (March to June), lower than the corresponding decrease of 47.9% for presentations for any reason (2020: 11,530; 2019: 22,128). However, MH presentations increased by 52.4% in July and August (2020: 218; 2019: 143), and by 45.6% in September to December (2020: 552 ;2019: 379), dropping 28.1% below prior year in January (2021: 87; 2020: 121) before returning to prior year levels in February 2021 (2021: 107; 2020: 106). Conclusion Following the initial COVID-19 lockdown, ED presentations by children for acute MH care increased significantly over prior year, with this increase sustained throughout 2020. Long-term stressors linked to the pandemic may be leading to chronic MH problems, warranting increased funding of MH services as part of the response to COVID-19.