Posted by Feladille Salcedo
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The impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health

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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 forced to work from home while some lost their jobs.

The introduction of distance education has been linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts in young individuals. As children were forced to attend online classes, they lost access to in-person interaction that can help their academic, physical, emotional, 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, mental, and physical health. In this article, we’re going to talk about different types of mental disorders and conditions that affect the youth and what parents can do to help them. 

Common mental health challenges in children

There are a lot of psychological, environmental, and biological factors that can affect individuals from childhood to adolescence. Some of the most common issues of mental health include:

  • Depression

Today’s children and teenagers are more likely to be depressed than in previous decades. Depression is more common among teenagers than in young children.

  • Emotional distress

Young individuals struggle with self-harm on a regular basis. Those suffering from severe emotional distress may attempt to cope by harming themselves.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Children with a generalized anxiety disorder could become quite anxious. Separation anxiety can affect very young children who are just starting school or older kids who are changing schools.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Physical or sexual abuse, witnessing traumatizing events, violence or severe bullying, or surviving a tragedy can all trigger PTSD.

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Children with ADHD are often hyperactive, impulsive, and have trouble paying attention.

  • Eating disorders

Eating disorders generally begin in adolescence and girls are more likely than boys to develop them. Although rare, 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 talking to them, teaching them good preventative practices, and providing a sense of security. It’s important to address mental health problems 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
  • Explain the need for social distancing (showing them the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines could be helpful)
  • Teach them deep breathing exercises to help them control their emotions
  • Encourage them to look at the positive aspect of life
  • Establish a daily routine 
  • Think of initiatives that can teach them to help others, especially those who are on 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’s typical for individuals to believe that folks who seek help are somehow weaker than others who don’t. Therapy is valuable to everyone, not only those who need to address anxiety, depression, doubt, and lack of confidence. 

By choosing to address the needs of your child, therapy or counseling can help in building their self-confidence, managing anxiety, strengthening coping ideals, and improving mental health.

Supportive psychotherapy helps children deal with challenges that come with mental health illnesses or conditions.

When and where to seek help

Common red flags for children with mental health conditions are usually identified at an early age. It’s important to monitor your child’s behavior growing up because it can help you prevent further mental health issues. Preventing mental health disorders from getting worse can also help prevent serious medical conditions, such as heart disease.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, seek treatment if your kid’s behavior:

  • lasts more than a few weeks
  • causes discomfort to your child or family
  • interferes with your child’s ability to function at school, at home, or with friends
  • is hazardous to others or to themselves

It’s common to wonder where to find a therapist near me or personal counseling near me. But how can you be sure that it’s the best therapist near me or the best online counseling there is?     

The American Psychological Association has a Psychologist Locator that allows you to look for a practicing psychotherapist by specialization and area. You may also check the US Department of Health and Human Services for therapists near me or mental health care programs appropriate for your child.

If you can’t handle stress and need someone to listen, you can call the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses hotline in NYC.

Self-care matters

In simple terms, mental health starts from loving yourself. 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 a mental health center or go to the nearest hospital emergency room if thoughts about self-harm or suicide are apparent. If you’re experiencing a mental health emergency, dial 911 or go to the nearest urgent care near you.

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