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The mental health of children and adolescents was largely stable during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, but racial disparities in access to outpatient psychiatric care worsened, new research suggested.

The cross-sectional analysis of mental health impairment and outpatient mental health care use among children aged 6-17 years revealed a slight 0.3% decrease in the percentage of those severe mental health problems from 2019 to 2021. The percentage of those who used any outpatient mental health care showed little change.

However, racial disparities in outpatient mental health care intensified during this period, with an increased use of 3% in White youth vs a 4% decrease in Black youth.

"While the absence of an increase in child and adolescent mental health impairment from 2019 to 2021 suggests successful adaptation to pandemic-related psychosocial disruptions, broadening racial and ethnic differences in outpatient mental health care underscores the urgency of addressing structural factors that may drive this racial and ethnic disparity," lead investigator Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, of the Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, and colleagues noted.

Head over to Medscape to read the full story.