New tool treats children's mental disorders

The coronavirus pandemic has brought increased challenges related to children's mental health, and with that comes a shift in how health care is delivered.

Life's stresses can be overwhelming.

"Many people are having increasing trouble during the pandemic," said Dr. Jim Slawson. 

Dr. Slawson with Children's Wisconsin said nationally, nearly 3 million children have been diagnosed with a serious emotional or behavioral health condition during the pandemic and roughly 6% of children ages 6 through 17 suffer from severe anxiety and trauma-related mental health conditions like PTSD.

"With the pandemic, we have been seeing a higher rate that is also the concern also more difficult access for treatment," said Dr. Slawson.

That's why health experts say a new digital therapy can be so beneficial. CCHP, an affiliate of Children’s Wisconsin, has partnered with Freespira, the maker of the first FDA-approved technology in Wisconsin that treats panic disorders and PTSD.

"This is a device that families and individuals use in their homes," said Dr. Slawson. "It's a 28-day course of treatment that helps regulate their breathing and CO2."

Combined with virtual connections, it can decrease utilization of emergency rooms, hospitalizations and aids in self-regulating breathing patterns. 

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"One year plus treatment, 68% of individuals who used this were in remission and 91% saw reduced symptoms," said Dr. Slawson.

It means additional hope for adolescents and a drug-free solution.

"Offering this alternative treatment that hasn’t been available I think can be a game-changer," said Dr. Slawson.

Doctors say don't be afraid to ask for help.