Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health in the News


A recent study from the Health Care Cost Institute found that the share of children’s emergency room (ER) visits for mental health rose in April 2020 and remained high for the rest of the year, illustrating the impact of COVID-19 on youth mental health. This growth in ER visits was driven by “a relatively sharp increase in the percent of visits for mental health needs among adolescents (ages 12-17).”[1] Some recent publications demonstrate the impact of substance use disorder (SUD) on this growing concern.

Research to address the growing mental health needs of adolescents includes the impact of parental SUD on their children. A recent study featured in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment tested whether buprenorphine treatment availability for adults was associated with decreases in substantiated cases of child maltreatment. It found that “Increased buprenorphine treatment capacity was correlated with lower rates of substantiated cases of maltreatment, suggesting that OUD treatment is effective in reducing immediate risk to children.”[2]

In addition, “research has shown that early intervention can significantly reduce rates of [SUD] in adulthood”[3]. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a workshop on May 5-6, 2022 about effective family-focused interventions for preventing SUD in primary care settings. "The proceedings from that workshop explore existing efforts to incorporate family-focused interventions into State healthcare policies.  [These proceedings] also examine barriers to implementing such interventions and lessons learned from successful efforts to scale up these interventions"[3].

[1] Valencia Z, Sen A. Greater share of children’s Emergency room visits were for mental health needs in 2020 [Internet]. Health Care Cost Institute. Washington, D.C. Accessed December 15, 2022.

[2] Ali MM, Ghertner R. Is buprenorphine treatment availability associated with decreases in substantiated cases of child maltreatment? J Subst Abuse Treat. 2022. Available from Accessed December 15, 2022.

[3] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, Board on Children, Youth, and Families. Family-focused interventions to prevent substance use disorders in adolescence: Proceedings of a workshop. Snair M, editor. Washington, D.C., DC: National Academies Press; 2022. Accessed December 15, 2022.