Pediatricians, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and Children’s Hospitals Declare National Emergency in Children’s Mental Health

Ohio AAP Launches New, Free Resources as Part of Store It Safe Teen Suicide Prevention Program

Published: October 20, 2021 at 1:00 PM EDT|Updated: 1 hour ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on children’s mental health as young people face constant physical isolation, constant uncertainty, fear and grief. Even before the pandemic, the mental health issues facing children and adolescents were a major concern and COVID-19 has only exacerbated them, with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) leading the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry ( AACAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) to declare a national mental health emergency for children.

One way Ohio AAP is trying to address this crisis in Ohio is through their Store It Safe (SIS) Teen Suicide Prevention Program, a unique partnership of health care providers, firearms safety experts, and community organizations founded to protect teens from gun suicide.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 34-year-olds in this country, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis,” said Mike Gittelman, MD, FAAP, co-medical director of the SIS program. “Through the Store it Safe Suicide Prevention Program, our goal is to build a barrier between contemplation and action and increase the knowledge of caregivers and parents to reverse this fatal trend.”

SIS Teen aims to identify teens with mental health problems, provide appropriate interventions, and create barriers to the deadliest means of suicide. The program has educated hundreds of providers, parents and teens, and 1,500 gun boxes scattered across the state. A variety of new resources will be launched at the Ohio AAP Annual Meeting on October 29, 2021.

“As caregivers, we witness the escalating mental health crisis our children face every day,” said Emily Harris, MD, FAAP, director of psychiatry for the Store It Safe program. “We must work together to develop policies, allocate funding, provide resources and education, and strengthen our efforts to reduce suicide risk and increase mental health care for young Ohioans.”

About the Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
The Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (Ohio AAP) promotes the health, safety and well-being of children and adolescents so they can reach their full potential. For more information, visit For more information about the SIS Teen Suicide Prevention Program, visit

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