Senator Sherrod Brown was in the Mahoning Valley Friday to hear from local health care professionals about an increase in mental health issues among children and teens.

Brown held a round table discussion at Akron Children's Mahoning Valley Beeghly campus in Boardman. 

"All over the country and also in the Mahoning Valley, the need for mental health treatment for children has really just it's multiplied," Akron Children's Boardman Psychiatrist Dr. Carmen Harlan said. 

The U.S. Surgeon General report shows in 2019, one in three high school students reported "persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness." Valley health officials point out COVID-19 made matters worse because of isolation and overall disruption in kids' lives. They said symptoms of depression and anxiety doubled among adolescence during the pandemic.

Now, it's up to the hospitals like Akron Children's to meet the higher demand for mental health treatment during a time when they're in need of more mental health workers.

"The shortage in our workforce of having mental health therapists and psychiatrists is also problematic," Dr. Harlan said,  "and you put the two together and it really has created a crisis."

After hosting the discussion to understand these recent concerns, Senator Brown said he will pass the message over to Washington in hopes of expanding accessibility and catching kids' mental health illnesses earlier.

"We got to intervene early. It will save us all," Brown said, "It will save their lives, it will help their families, and it will only save money for all of us because they won't have more serious problems later." 

Akron Children's Boardman campus said they're looking forward to having three more behavioral health rooms in 2023 to help ease demand.

Local health officials also point out there is a new national suicide hotline number in effect on July 16th. The number is 988.