Butler Hospital sees rise in mental health referrals during pandemic


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a complex array of factors that can impact the mental health of kids and teens.

Cases of anxiety and depression have climbed, leading to an increase in the number of referrals to Butler Hospital for mental health help.

Currently, all in-patient beds at the hospital are full and there has been an overflow of teens being held in emergency rooms awaiting critical treatment.

Dr. Tammi Marie Phillip, chief of Butler’s adolescent unit, said there has been a huge number of outside referrals from outside the hospital.

“We have kids who stay in the emergency department for days,” she said. “Today we have a referral for a child who has been held for a week waiting for a psychiatric bed. We don’t have kids coming from the internal system.”

When asked about a specific number of patients, Phillip said she doesn’t know.

“I don’t know the number today, but I know last week it was over 20 kids waiting for a bed at hospitals around the state,” she added.

Butler doctors say they are increasing their telehealth appointments to accommodate more at-risk teens. They are also trying to increase communication with parents to make sure they seek out help for their kids if they are showing signs they need mental health support.

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