Child and Adolescent Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges of Psychiatric Outpatient Clinics

Mariela Mosheva, Yael Barzilai, Nimrod Hertz-Palmor, Ehud Mekori-Domachevsky, Asia Avinir, Galit Erez, Noa Vardi, Gila Schoen, Tal Lahav, Hadar Sadeh, Michal Rapaport, Chen Dror, Alex Gizunterman, Shlomit Tsafrir, Doron Gothelf, Yuval Bloch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Worldwide national surveys show a rising mental health burden among children and adolescents (C&A) during COVID-19. The objective of the current study is to verify the expected rise in visits to psychiatric outpatient clinics of C&A, especially of new patients. Methods: a cross-sectional study focusing on visits as recorded in electronic medical records of eight heterogeneous C&A psychiatric outpatient clinics. The assessment was based on visits held from March to December of 2019 (before the pandemic) in comparison to visits held in 2020 (during the pandemic). Results: The number of visits was similar for both periods. However, in 2020, 17% of the visits used telepsychiatry (N = 9885). Excluding telepsychiatry reveals a monthly decrease in traditional in-person activities between 2020 and 2019 (691.6 ± 370.8 in 2020 vs. 809.1 ± 422.8 in 2019, mean difference = −117.5, t (69) = −4.07, p = 0.0002, Cohen’s d = −0.30). Acceptation of new patients declined during 2020, compared to 2019 (50.0 ± 38.2 in 2020 vs. 62.8 ± 42.9 in 2019; Z = −3.12, p = 0.002, r = 0.44). Telepsychiatry was not used for new patients. Conclusions: The activity of C&A psychiatric outpatient clinics did not rise but was guarded due to the use of telepsychiatry. The decline in visits of new patients was explained by the lack of use of telepsychiatry for these patients. This calls for expanding the use of telepsychiatry, especially for new patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number765
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • child and adolescence psychiatry
  • child and adolescents
  • mental health
  • outpatient clinic

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