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CT, like rest of nation, sees increase in youth mental health diagnoses

Young woman suffering from bipolar disorder, psychological diseases, schizophrenia. Happy young woman with and her ghostly sad twin behind. Concept of Bipolar disorder. Flat vector illustration.
Mary Long
The number of young people in Connecticut with at least two mental health diagnoses was up 24% from 2018 to 2022.

The number of young people with at least two mental health diagnoses surged 48% from 2018 to 2022 nationally, according to Cigna’s Evernorth Research Institute.

Connecticut also saw numbers go up, though not by as much — the number of young people with at least two mental health diagnoses was up 24% from 2018 to 2022.

The Bloomfield-based health insurer looked at national claims data of more than 20 million people under the age of 26.

Of young people diagnosed with behavioral health conditions like anxiety, acute stress disorders, depression and ADHD, 38% did not receive treatment.

Even though more young people in Connecticut are struggling with their mental health, the state has resources to get them the care they need quicker compared to other states, Dr. Laine Taylor of the Village for Families and Children that operates a walk-in urgent crisis center for children in Hartford, said.

“It can be daunting and confusing to search for a therapist or psychiatrist, much less to know what is the best type of treatment for your child and family's needs,” Taylor says. “There are a number of ways to access care in our state however.”

Taylor, medical director of The Village in Hartford, runs one of four Urgent Crisis Centerswhich opened last year.

Pediatricians and primary care providers have Access Mental Health CT, which offers free consultation to doctors for mental health treatment of their patients.

The state’s mobile crisis unit is also available through 2-1-1.

The top diagnoses among children and young people in Connecticut and nationally is anxiety, according to the Cigna data. Of those who did receive treatment, a significant number were treated with medication only. But according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, it is recommended that children 6 and older should receive both medication and therapy.

“This could be related to access to therapy as a barrier, but more likely, it is related to primary care providers prescribing psychotropic medication,” Taylor says. “We need our pediatric partners screening and doing some treatment to meet our youth's needs.”

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.