The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unpredictable and massive impact for almost two years now. Many children were forced to attend remote or virtual learning classes. Working parents were also forced to work from home or, worse, lose their jobs.
The introduction of distance education has been linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts in young individuals. As children were adapting to learning online, they lost access to supports and services that helped their academic, physical, psychological, and social development. Not to mention suicide was already a significant public health issue in the United States prior to COVID.
The overall health of a person includes emotional health and, if not taken care of, physical health can be at risk. In this article, we are going to talk about different mental illnesses and conditions amongst the youth as well as determine how we can handle them as adults and hopefully help the young ones.
Common mental health challenges in children
There are a lot of psychological, environmental, and biological factors that can affect individuals from childhood to adolescence. Here are some of the most common problems of children and young teens with regards to mental health includes:
- Today’s children and teenagers are more likely to be depressed than in previous decades. Depression is more common among teenagers than it is among young children.
- Young individuals struggle with self-harm on a regular basis. Those suffering from severe emotional distress may attempt to cope by harming themselves.
- Children with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) could become quite anxious. Separation anxiety can affect very young children who are just starting school or older kids who are changing schools.
- Physical or sexual abuse, seeing something highly terrifying or traumatizing, being the victim of violence or severe bullying, or surviving a tragedy can all trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects children who are regularly hyperactive, impulsive, and have trouble paying attention (ADHD).
- Eating disorders generally begin in adolescence, and girls are more likely than boys to develop them. Although the percentage of young individuals who develop an eating problem is minimal, eating disorders or problems including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can have substantial physical and developmental implications.
How parents can help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on mental health
Children’s anxiety can be reduced by teaching them good preventative practices, communicating with them about their anxieties, and providing them with a sense of security. It is important to address mental health issues without panicking and to handle certain situations with utmost care and understanding. Here are some helpful recommendations on how to help your children:
- Be a role model
- Be mindful about how you talk about the current situation
- Talk to them about why is there a need for social distancing (showing them the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines could be helpful)
- Teach deep breathing exercises to help them control their emotions
- Encourage them to look at the positive aspect of life – the silver lining
- Establish a daily routine
- Think of initiatives that can teach them to help others especially those who are in the front line
- Offer lots of encouragement, love, and affection
The importance of counseling and therapy
Therapy has a lot of negative connotations attached to counseling and therapy. It is typical for individuals to believe that folks who seek help are somehow “weaker than” others who do not require such assistance. Therapy is valuable to everyone, not only those who need to address difficulties like anxiety, depression, doubt/lack of confidence, and so on.
By choosing to address the needs of your child, therapy or counseling would be able to help in building their self-confidence, managing anxiety, strengthening coping ideals, and improving mental health.
Supportive psychotherapy aids your children in dealing with challenges connected to their mental health illnesses or conditions, which have an impact on their life as a whole.
When and where to seek help
Common red flags for children with mental health conditions are usually identified at an early age. Being keen about your child’s behavior growing up should be taken into serious consideration because this can help you prevent further mental health issues. Preventing mental health problems from getting worse can also help prevent serious medical conditions, such as heart disease.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an institute under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), seek treatment if your kid’s conduct lasts more than a few weeks, causes discomfort to your child or family, or interferes with your child’s ability to function at school, at home, or with friends. Seek help right away if your kid’s conduct is hazardous, or if your child expresses a desire to harm themselves or others.
It is common to wonder where to find a therapist near me or personal counseling near me. And if you find one, how can you be sure that it is the best therapist near me or the best online counseling there is?
The American Psychological Association (APA) has a Psychologist Locator that allows you to look for a practicing psychotherapist near me by specialization and area. You may also check the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.gov) for therapists near me or mental health care programs appropriate for your child.
Kindly understand that asking for help is part of self-care. If stress is causing stomach pains or headaches, or if your child is frequently depressed and hopeless, make a phone call to a local child and adolescent mental health hotline for a mental illness test or evaluation.
Please get treatment from our child and youth mental health center or go to the nearest hospital emergency room if you are thinking about self-harm or suicide. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, dial 911 or go to the nearest urgent care near you.