GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two years after the start of COVID-19 in Michigan, healthcare providers sound the alarm about childhood development issues.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the pandemic-related decline in children’s mental health is now a national emergency. The report found depression and anxiety diagnoses continue to increase among youth.

Pediatric Psychologist Adelle Cadieux said parents now face lengthy wait times to simply get a referral.

“Most mental health providers have seen their caseloads have increased significantly,” Cadieux said. “There are a lot more people who are requesting services than there are providers out there.”

Hospitals across the country have seen more than a 30 percent increase in emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts since the pandemic started, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cadieux said they have not seen that large of an increase at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital nor in the state of Michigan. However, she noted that it is still important to monitor child behavioral patterns.

“We’re seeing very young children who are very stressed out, anxious and depressed,” Cadieux said. “All of us have been impacted by these changes.”

Cadieux said in addition to mental health issues, children’s sleeping and eating patterns have changed. During the stay-at-home period of the pandemic, parents and children alike struggled to maintain structure. She added that now that kids are back in school, the adjustment has brought new obstacles to teachers and school counselors.