Press Release

Disclosures: Beers reports no relevant financial disclosures.
December 14, 2021
2 min read

AAP continues push for pediatric mental health support during pandemic


Press Release

Disclosures: Beers reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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The AAP updated its guidance for pediatric mental health support in light of findings reported earlier this year that the prevalence of anxiety and depression among children has doubled during the pandemic.

The updated recommendations came nearly 2 months after the AAP, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association issued a joint declaration that there has been a “worsening crisis in child and adolescent mental health” brought on by COVID-19 and “the ongoing struggle for racial justice,” constituting a national emergency.

child psych consult
The AAP has updated their guidance on children’s mental health during the pandemic. Source: Adobe Stock

According to findings published in August in JAMA Pediatrics, approximately 1 in 4 youth globally are experiencing clinically elevated depression symptoms, and around 1 in 5 are experiencing anxiety — both double pre-pandemic estimates.

The AAP said additional treatment and resources may be needed for children and adolescents experiencing anxiety and depression at baseline who are now at greater risk for exacerbation of those symptoms.

The updates included notes on social health determinants that may cause additional stress on children, such as family housing, employment or food insecurities.

“These are difficult times, and I know that many people are hurting, even as we enjoy a traditionally festive holiday season,” AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, said in a press release. “Pediatricians are in a great position to help families identify signs and symptoms of stress and offer resources and reassurance. We know your children and can help navigate questions about whether new behaviors or emotions are typical or need more evaluation. We are in this together.”

The AAP noted that Beers discussed the issue at a congressional briefing this week.

“We know effective ways to buffer the impact of trauma and stress, and support positive social-emotional development,” Beers said, according to the AAP. “For many, it is very difficult to find and access mental health care that offers this help. We need to improve timely access to evidence-based mental health treatment. This means integrating mental health supports within our primary care offices, school and other settings.”

“The need for urgent action on a national scale can seem overwhelming, yet we can each help with small acts of kindness and efforts to improve relationships within our own families and communities,” Beers said. “We have never backed away [from] finding a way forward, even in times of strife. Now is the time to listen to each other, have compassion and work on collective solutions.”


Interim guidance on supporting the emotional and behavioral health needs of children, adolescents, and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Published Dec. 14, 2021. Accessed Dec. 14, 2021.

Racine N, et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2021;doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.2482.