Adolescent Psychiatric Emergencies Precipitated by the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2021 Jul;59(7):17-21. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20201203-05. Epub 2021 May 21.


The purpose of this retrospective case series was to describe adolescent psychiatric emergencies precipitated by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This study used a sample of adolescents admitted to a safety net psychiatric hospital in Los Angeles, California, between March and May 2020. Medical records and involuntary psychiatric holds were reviewed to determine if the events precipitating the psychiatric crisis were related to the pandemic (eligible N = 14). COVID-19-precipitated admissions were 24% of total admissions from March 15 to May 31, 2020; however, total admissions during this time period were reduced from the same time period in prior years. Most hospitalizations were precipitated by shelter-in-place stressors for adolescents with a psychiatric history, but for 28.6% of the sample, this was their first mental health encounter. The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding shelter-in-place orders may precipitate psychiatric emergencies among adolescents with and without existing mental health disorders. [Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 59(7), 17-21.].

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Emergencies / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Pandemics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2