A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

The pandemic and mental health in children: 3 things to know

mom talking to child about the COVID-19 pandemic

Be present with your children and give them a chance to open up about what is on their minds.

The pandemic and its endless ripple effects have made it a challenging time for Americans and their mental health.

According to an article in Pharmacy Times, “New research finds that mental health has replaced COVID-19 as the top health concern among Americans, but deeper analysis needs to be done into whether depression and anxiety are truly becoming more widespread, people are more willing to discuss these once-stigmatized conditions, or more researchers are studying mental health more broadly.”

The broad toll of the pandemic

The workforce crisis the pandemic sparked in health care has made it harder to access mental health services for many people across the country. So as the need for mental health care may be rising across the country, available resources are, in many instances, diminishing.

Marshfield Clinic Health System psychiatrist, Dr. Alison Jones, works with children and teens to address a variety of mental health diagnoses. She said people were extensively impacted by the pandemic’s ripple effects.

“Kids in particular saw changes in how they go to school, how often they see their friend groups, even how they interact with friends having to FaceTime more often,” Dr. Jones said. “There have been so many changes in the social climate. The financial challenges of families. People losing or changing jobs.”

An increase in anxiety

Dr. Jones said at Marshfield Clinic Health System care teams are seeing an increase in patients seeking help for anxiety in particular. She thinks some of this spike is explained by all the change children and adults have had to go through.

“In the earlier stages of the pandemic when things were much worse, we were telling kids to stay home, be safe, constantly telling them to be cautious. Now, we are sending them back out into the world and to school,” Dr. Jones said. “After hearing constant messages about the need to be safe, it can be hard, particularly for kids, to mentally navigate going back to school, or just being out and social again.”

What can be done

Dr. Jones said it is important for health care experts, communities and schools to work together to give teachers resources and education concerning children mental health. In that way, teachers can better support mental wellness and identify signs of children who may need mental health services.

For parents, Dr. Jones said it is important to be present when they are with their children.

“That means putting the cellphone down and spending time playing with your kids.  Ask them questions, and show them they can talk to you about their concerns,” Dr. Jones said.

If you or someone you know may benefit from mental health services, reach out to a primary care provider or mental health professional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

View our comment policy