We examined mental health-related visits to emergency departments (EDs) among children from 2001 to 2011. We used the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey-Emergency Department, 2001-2011 to identify visits of children 6 to 20 years old with a reason-for-visit code or ICD-9-CM diagnosis code reflecting mental health issues. National percentages of total visits, visit counts, and population rates were calculated, overall and by race, age, and sex. Emergency department visits for mental health issues increased from 4.4% of all visits in 2001 to 7.2% in 2011. Counts increased 55,000 visits per year and rates increased from 13.6 visits/1000 population in 2001 to 25.3 visits/1000 in 2011 (P < .01 for all trends). Black children (all ages) had higher visit rates than white children and 13- to 20-year-olds had higher visit rates than children 6 to 12 years old (P < .01 for all comparisons). Differences between groups did not decline over time.
Keywords: children; emergency department; mental health; trends.
© The Author(s) 2014.