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Friday, February 17, 2012

Most Teens Who Self-Harm Are Not Evaluated for Mental Health in ER

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Most children and teens who deliberately injure themselves are discharged from emergency rooms without an evaluation of their mental health, a new study shows.

The findings are worrisome since risk for suicide is greatest right after an episode of deliberate self-harm, according to researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The researchers also found the majority of these kids do not receive any follow-up care with a mental health professional up to one month after their ER visit.

"Emergency department personnel can play a unique role in suicide prevention by assessing the mental health of patients after deliberate self-harm and providing potentially lifesaving referrals for outpatient mental health care," said lead study author Jeff Bridge, principal investigator at the hospital's Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice, in a news release. "However, the coordination between emergency services for patients who deliberately harm themselves and linkage with outpatient mental health treatment is often inadequate."

The story can be found here.

The study is from Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 51, Issue 2, pages 213-222.  Here is the conclusion of the study from the abstract.
"A substantial proportion of young Medicaid beneficiaries who present to EDs with deliberate self-harm are discharged to the community and do not receive emergency mental health assessments or follow-up outpatient mental health care."