The percentage of children in Colorado in their first 15 months receiving preventive medical and behavioral health services increased by 23% from 2013 levels and remained constant during COVID’s public health emergency, according to new data released by the Center. to improve value in healthcare.
But Dr. David Keller, a pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said that’s not the case for many children ages three and older who have missed regular checkups.
“We are seeing an epidemic of children’s mental health problems,” Keller said. “We see a lot of children with anxiety disorders, a lot of children with depression, children who are prone to suicide.”
The focus of visits for children aged three and over is kindergarten readiness – to make sure they are equipped for development, and mental health screening to ensure that children are in the best place to succeed in order to succeed.
These visits decreased significantly between 2019 and 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. Keller added that school interruptions create even greater problems for teenagers’ mental health.
Despite the overall positive trends, in 2020, 40% of children aged 15 months and younger did not receive the recommended six or more visits of well children to a primary care provider. Children covered by commercial health insurance performed better than children covered by Medicaid.
Keller said the arrival of meetings could be a particular challenge for families struggling economically.
“I know a lot of families who work in two jobs,” Keller said. “I have a lot of families where the father works at night and the mother works part-time because they can’t afford day care, and that makes it really hard to plan a good visit.”
Children in rural Colorado have similar visits compared to urban children, although there are fewer providers and families have to travel longer distances.
Keller said most families have a lot on their plate and it’s easy for wellness visits to slip off the list of priorities.
“One of the things I love about being a pediatrician is that I can actively practice primary prevention,” Keller said. “We can do so much to help families help their children be the best they can be. And that would be my best message: Come in, we want to see you.
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