It’s difficult to imagine a more heartbreaking situation: Your teenage son or daughter requires hospitalization for a behavioral health crisis, and the closest inpatient treatment facility is located hours away from home.
The number of adolescents in Lancaster County who need behavioral health care is alarmingly high and continues to rise. Our most recent community health needs assessment shows a continued increase in adolescents who report anxiety and depression. In fiscal year 2019, Lancaster General Hospital’s Emergency Department treated 332 adolescents ages 14 to 18 for behavioral health concerns.
Adolescent behavioral health is a statewide and indeed a national concern. According to the latest report from the national nonprofit Mental Health America, 114,000 Pennsylvania adolescents ages 12 to 17 experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Nearly 60 percent of those adolescents did not receive behavioral health services.
LG Health and our partners are committed to addressing this growing community need. Our efforts include opening the county’s first and only inpatient behavioral health unit for adolescents and increasing access to outpatient counseling services through our pediatric and primary-care practices.
The Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital’s adolescent inpatient unit opened in August. Depression and anxiety-related conditions are the most common diagnoses for patients on the unit, which is expected to reach its full capacity of 16 beds by the end of the year.
Elsewhere at LG Health, integrated behavioral health counselors provide outpatient therapy for adolescents at Roseville Pediatrics and our primarycare practices. Adolescents often are referred to counseling for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, stress management and health concerns.
Some LG Health counselors have specialized training in suicide risk reduction or other issues that may affect adolescents. In January, all 38 counselors will be trained in an evidence-based intervention for children who have experienced trauma.
Enhancing access to adolescent behavioral health services will remain a priority for LG Health. This ongoing effort is just one part of our overall commitment to delivering comprehensive pediatric services close to home for children and families in our community.