(WTNH) — Experts say our kids are in crisis. The pandemic is causing existing problems like depression and anxiety to worsen.
“Social issues take a long time to recover if they do,” said Dr. Ryan Loss of Connecticut Behavioral Health in Cheshire and Milford.
“We are seeing a lot of high schoolers who are in distress because I think they’re acutely aware of what they’ve missed,” said Laura Saunders of Hartford Healthcare’s Institute of Living.
Additionally, elementary school-age kids are already showing signs of burn-out which typically happens in the spring. They’ve been affected by the challenges of remote learning.
“Knowledge gaps lead to greater distress due to anxiety and or realizing, ‘I’m behind, you’re teaching things I don’t understand,'” Saunders said.
Therapists are flooded without much availability.
So, for non-emergent situations, utilize school resources.
“Your social workers, your school psychologist, your school counselors, they’re all great resources, they all have clinical training based on their background,” Loss said. “They can be a support.”
Talk to the child. Try to identify their feelings.
“‘I see that you’re more irritable than usual, I see that you’re more tired than usual,'” Saunders said.
“Sometimes it can just be scheduled times to check-in,” Loss added.
The pandemic created a heightened use of social media for connection, which is sometimes good for kids, often times bad. For teens and tweens in the 12 to 15-year-old range, try to monitor how they’re using it.
Also at home, be a little more flexible with schedules than usual.
“If they don’t do their homework first thing when they get home from school, give them an hour outside, give them an hour break to just sort of release,” Saunders said. “Giving them a little bit of slack because they are really struggling.”
Lastly, be mindful and patient. We’re not out of the woods yet.
“COVID is not going away, so we’re still going to have to manage that,” Saunders said.
Coming up Wednesday, we talk about eating disorders, also continuing to be a big problem. Find out what parents should be on the lookout for.