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(CNN) — During the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health-related visits to emergency departments rose sharply among children and adolescents. A new report published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows signs of improvement, but poor mental health remains a “substantial public health problem,” especially among teen girls.

CDC researchers tracked average weekly emergency department visits among adolescents ages 12 to 17 for nine specific mental health conditions, suicide attempts, and other suicide-related behaviors and drug overdoses.

By the fall of 2022, emergency department visits for mental health conditions overall, suicide-related behaviors, and drug overdoses were each at least 10% lower than they were in the fall of 2021, on average.

Despite the decline, however, emergency department visits for mental and behavioral health remained at or higher than pre-pandemic baseline levels for teen girls.

And rates remained significantly higher among adolescent girls compared with adolescent boys. In the fall of 2022, there were more than 4,000 visits for mental health conditions among teen girls, compared with about 2,400 among teen boys. Suspected suicide attempts were nearly four times higher among teen girls than teen boys.

Emergency department visits for drug overdoses were also higher than baseline levels from 2019. Overdoses involving opioids in particular increased by 27% between fall of 2021 and fall of 2022, with greater increases among teen boys, according to the CDC report.

Health experts have been sounding the alarm about youth mental health for years. The CDC released a survey in February that showed teen girls were experiencing record-high levels of violence, sadness and suicide risk in recent years.

“America’s teen girls are engulfed in a growing wave of sadness, violence, and trauma,” Dr. Debra Houry, CDC’s chief medical officer and deputy director for program and science, said at the time. However, she said, many mental health challenges are preventable.

A return to school and other community settings that were more similar to pre-pandemic environments may have helped adolescents feel less isolated and more engaged, CDC researchers said in the new report.

But ongoing efforts to support the mental health of adolescents are necessary, including “evidence-based, comprehensive prevention efforts” such as the 988 suicide crisis line and access to telehealth options, as well as “early condition identification and trauma-informed interventions.”

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis police are continuing to try and serve the mentally ill by recruiting additional officers to join their Mobile Crisis Assistance Team (MCAT) next year.

Members of MCAT said they’ve seen an increase in mental health crisis calls.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest, many people are calling 2020 one of the most stressful years of their lifetime. Members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan PD Mobile Crisis Assistance Unit said they’re busier than ever.

“About a third of our calls are suicidal thoughts or substance use,” said Sgt. Lance Dardeen.

Currently the team has eight members, but to keep up with the demand they’re adding two more officers. The unit works with clinicians from Eskenazi Hospital to get people the proper help they need. Dardeen said this can save the city money and resources.

“We try to divert away from the criminal justice intuition. When MCAT arrives on scene our non arrest rate is 96%. I think it shows there are more appropriate ways to deal with these mental health issues,” said Dardeen.

Officer Ethan Forrest said the team hopes to work with the community to end the stigma around mental illness.

“If you have a healthy mind you will have a health system. If you do have family members or friends who do have mental health issues it’s OK to ask for help,” said Forrest.

They hope the work they’re doing will encourage other communities to do the same.

Students are returning to school to kick off the new learning year and many of them are doing so virtually or in some hybrid of in-person and virtual learning. For many students, virtual learning, and the thought of being on Zoom or video calls most of the day is causing them a lot of anxiety and stress. 

Here are a few tips from Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language to help students manage their virtual learning and Zoom anxiety so they can keep their focus on learning. 

1. Talk to your student about how they are feeling

Going back to school virtually can feel isolating to students. Without the benefit of back to school nights, in-person orientations, and opportunities to connect face-to-face with teachers and classmates, it is easy for them to feel like they are on their own in this back-to-school experience and that can increase their stress and uncertainty. 

It’s important that parents and caregivers stand in as a their student’s trusted resource in this time and as such, asking them questions not just about what they have to do to get ready but how they’re feeling about the experience can be a great way to open up the lines of communication, really show them that you are listening to them, and offer reassurance and guidance that they may need to feel less alone in the process. 

2. Help Them Prepare Their Learning Space and Remove Distractions

Keeping track of Zoom links, managing class schedules and homework, and controlling what’s happening in the background during their actual virtual classes can all help your student feel better prepared and supported in the virtual learning process. 

If they are nervous or anxious about what their background or home environment might look like on video calls or worry that they might be judged by other students, help them set up an organized, clean, and well-lit workspace that may help them feel more confident and able to focus on paying attention to what’s happening in their class and less about what’s going on in their learning space at home. If a neutral background isn’t possible, maybe consider helping them set up a digital green screen background for video calls, may apps have that feature available.    

3. Offer Them Reassurance

For many students, virtual learning is a new experience for them and they may feel like people will be “watching” them while in video or Zoom classes. All of these worries can be distracting and can even make some students not want to participate or continue learning. Let your student know that they’re not alone in feeling that way but reassure them that everyone is likely paying less attention to them or judging them less than they feel like or think. Everyone else is busy managing the same feelings and how they themselves are showing up in class to be focused on them!

Remind your student that the primary goal of the teachers, whether in person or in the virtual classroom, is to make sure that their students are learning and that they are all on his/her side, cheering them on to be successful! 

For more from Mitchell, visit her website or Instagram.