Report: Children's ED visits, mental health hospital admissions rise steadily - MedCity News

Recently released data from CVS Health showed that its new initiative reduced suicide attempts among Aetna members by 15.7% in 2022 compared to 2019. However, the company did not provide specific data on how many suicide attempts there were in 2019 d. and what is the decline in the number of

According to National Library of Medicine. With that in mind, CVS Health set a goal in 2021 to reduce suicide attempts among Aetna members by 20% by 2025.

“We believe that suicide is, in most cases, preventable,” said Cara McNulty, president of behavioral health at CVS Health, in a recent interview. “We have an opportunity to look at the policies and the system and the solutions that we put in place to make sure that we can reduce something that doesn’t necessarily happen.”

The company claims it has been particularly successful among its elderly members, achieving a 34.1% reduction in suicide attempts between 2019 and March 2022.

The Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based company saw this decrease in part through increased screening of its members. The US Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that adults under the age of 65 are screened for anxiety and depression.

CVS Health performs suicide prevention screening for all members, screened by clinical staff to catch early warning signs. It also runs an outreach program for those who have been discharged from an inpatient facility after a suicide attempt, in which it sends a postcard with a toll-free number that is answered around the clock by Aetna mental health staff.

But while the retailer claims there has been a significant decrease in suicide attempts among senior Aetna members, there was a 32 percent increase for Aetna members ages 13 to 17 in 2022 compared to 2019. That’s similar to the trend seen across the country, largely due to Covid-19, McNulty said.

“If you think about why that is, first of all, they have nothing to compare [Covid-19] to,” McNulty said. “Not that any of us have been through a pandemic, but as adults we’ve probably been through a recession or seen changes in the world that maybe we have a reference point. Age 13 to 17, they have nothing to refer to. So everything changed for them: how they went to school, how they communicated, how they spent their free time.

Recognizing this troubling development, CVS Health is stepping up its efforts with new initiatives specifically focused on adolescents. This includes toolkits for parents and carers to inform them about their child’s mental health and how to provide support and identify warning signs. It also created an adolescent outreach program that proactively supports families with children identified as needing mental health care. In addition, its contact care program aims to reach out to adolescents who have been discharged from inpatient care to provide them with care contacts and a care bag with “comfort items” that includes blankets, lip balms and mints.

CVS Health is also partnering with digital mental health companies Vita Health and Oui Therapeutics to provide youth support teams and clinical outpatient programs.

“It’s really about focusing on prevention and early intervention,” McNulty said. “So everything from what we do with adolescents, parents and caregivers, the programs we provide and the initiatives we implement, we are moving forward in this prevention area.”

A year into the program, McNulty said what she’s learned is the importance of normalizing mental health care. It’s important to talk about mental health and emphasize that it’s connected to physical health, she said.

“We have to help [people], especially these teenagers, understand that they are not alone,” McNulty said. “They are absolutely not alone.”

Photo: SDI Productions, Getty Images

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