Mental Health Rx

New HMS initiative aims to address care shortages for adolescents, children

Image of a female high school student sitting on the floor by her locker, head in hands
Image: FangXiaNuo/Getty E+ Collection

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a catastrophic toll on global health, but what may be less apparent is the impact the virus has had on the mental health of people around the world, particularly children.

“There is a grave crisis in the U.S. today in terms of the mental health of young people,” said Vikram Patel, the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health at Harvard Medical School. “This crisis is because of the lack of access that young people have to early, evidence-based care for their mental health difficulties.”

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And while accessing mental health care for U.S. children is challenging, providers are also laboring to keep up with surging demand. Last fall, the American Psychological Association noted that psychologists were reporting significant increases in demand for anxiety and depression treatment even as they juggle expanded workloads and face waiting lists that are much longer than before the pandemic.