Examining Depression and Suicidality in Pediatric Patients With MS: Sarah C. Stoney, MSW, LSW


The social worker in the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia talked about depression and suicidality rates in pediatric patients with multiple sclerosis. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

"The percentage of depression being observed in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) is approximately 40%. We do know that individuals with mental health concerns certainly need access to services, specifically if they have MS or any chronic disease. But individuals with MS do tend to have a high rate of depression and anxiety.”

Pediatric and adult patients living with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience changes in their physical, emotional, and cognitive wellbeing that influences their quality of life as well as function. High incidence of depression, increased isolation, and reduced function or independence are all risk factors for suicidality in patients with MS regardless of age. Thus, these high rates of depression and suicide in this patient population require clinicians to recognize and respond to signs appropriately to provide patients with the needed care.1

Sarah C. Stoney, MSW, LSW, a social worker in the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, Neuromuscular Program, and Leukodystrophy Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, presented a talk in the psychosocial platform session at the 2023 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, held May 31 to June 3, in Aurora, Colorado. In her talk, she discussed the impact of social workers in pediatric MS centers and reviewed the rates of depression and suicidality observed in patients with MS, according to research.2

At the meeting, Stoney sat down in an interview with NeurologyLive® to provide an overview of the major take-home points discussed in her presentation. She talked about the barriers with access to mental health services for pediatric patients with MS, and how this can be addressed. She also spoke about the integration of psychosocial members into clinical care teams and how this can also improve mental health support for patients. Additionally, she briefly touched upon the impact of COVID-19 on mental health resources for patients with MS, and how to address the lingering challenges.

Click here for more coverage of CMSC 2023.

1. Kalb R, Feinstein A, Rohrig A, Sankary L, Willis A. Depression and Suicidality in Multiple Sclerosis: Red Flags, Management Strategies, and Ethical Considerations. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2019;19(10):77. Published 2019 Aug 28. doi:10.1007/s11910-019-0992-1
2. Stoney S. The Role of Social Work in Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Centers: Reviewing Rates of Depression and Suicidality in Pediatric Patients. Presented at: 2023 CMSC Annual Meeting; held May 31-June 3; Aurora, CO. PSY05.
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