Connecticut Children’s sees rise in kids seeking urgent mental health care related to pandemic anxiety


Conn. (WTNH) — Throughout the pandemic, we’ve heard a lot about the benefits of in-person learning. Now, weeks into the new school year, we’re getting a look at how this transition has been negatively impacted some students.

“Now you’re back in school, now you’re back around people, and now you’re back in a routine,” said Dr. Melissa Santos, division chief of Pediatric Psychology at Connecticut Children’s. “There’s still a lot of worries that people have with the pandemic. I don’t think that structure has helped kids as much as maybe we hoped it would.”

Santos said there are more and more students coming in to seek immediate mental health care, the majority being teenagers. Connecticut Children’s officials say the number has tripled since the summer.

“We have seen a sharp rise in the number of kids, particularly coming into our emergency room, for things like depression, anxiety, suicide attempt, aggression, and eating disorders,” Santos said.

If your child needs help, Santos said there are many resources in place statewide.

“You know them best,” Santos said. “If you’re concerned about something, ask them or get the people who know them best involved: the pediatrician, the people at school, because they can connect you to the resources you may need.”

Santos also recommends practicing and modeling good coping skills at home. That can include going for a walk after a tough day and talking to someone about how you’re feeling. She said, by doing that, you’re demonstrating healthy ways to manage those feelings when you start to feel stressed and overwhelmed.

There is a crisis hotline available. You can call 211 for immediate assistance.

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