RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Children’s mental health is topping a new list of the most important patient concerns among doctors, according to health experts.

The Emergency Care Research Institute says the pediatric mental health crisis is the most pressing concern in the medical field right now, with the leader of the institute saying it’s approaching the status of a “national public health emergency.”

The report also shows an increase in anxiety and depression among kids from ages 3 to 17 since 2017, with rates accelerating during the pandemic.

Marisha Mathis is a therapist at Thriveworks in Raleigh and said even though the pandemic is behind us, it left a big financial, physical and emotional toll on families and that’s not easy to move on from.

“Even though the country is not necessarily in a pandemic status anymore, people are still adjusting,” Mathis said.

Therapists say some of the signs for parents to look out for include a change in behavior, dropping grades, isolation, defiance and sometimes, a change in hygiene.

Mathis tells CBS 17 the best thing for parents and teachers is to be a safe space for kids.

“Being approachable so that if there is a student or a child of any nature that feels that they want to express or share what may be going on with them, that they feel comfortable doing it,” Mathis said.

The research institute also suggests for clinics and hospitals to perform universal mental health screenings during every visit.