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Surge in Spending on Children’s Mental Health Amid Pandemic

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Amid growing concerns about the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people, a recent study conducted by the RAND Corporation has shed light on a significant increase in spending on mental health services for children and adolescents in the United States. The research reveals that spending in this crucial area surged by 26% for individuals aged 19 and younger between March 2020 and August 2022.

This spike was even more pronounced, with a 22% increase, among a substantial cohort covered by employer-provided insurance. Perhaps most notably, the utilization of telehealth services for young patients skyrocketed by more than 30-fold during the early stages of the pandemic and remained 23 times higher than pre-pandemic levels by August 2022. In-person mental health care, while gradually rebounding, was still at 75% of its pre-pandemic volume at that time.

The pandemic has cast a long shadow over the mental well-being of young individuals, necessitating a rapid and substantial response in the form of increased mental health spending. This article delves into the findings of the RAND Corporation’s study, examining the surge in mental health service utilization, the vital role of telehealth, and the implications of these trends for the broader healthcare landscape.

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