With schools returning to normal schedules after over a year of modified or remote learning, children are both nervous and ready to return to normal life. There is no doubt that the last two years have significantly impacted our homes, schools, and healthcare system. While we must remain vigilant in protecting our youth from infectious diseases, we must also remember to take care of their mental health. Recent studies have shown that in the last decade, there has been a significant increase in depression and anxiety, among other mental health issues, in adolescents and young adults.
Below are some signs to look out for in your children. It’s important to note that there can be normal variation in day-to-day activities, but if you’re noticing these signs more days than not or if they are significantly impacting daily routines, please take them to a physician or counselor for evaluation.
- Sad or angry mood
- Lack of interest in things that used to interest them
- Eating more or less than usual
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Isolation from others
- Lack of motivation
- Low self-esteem
- School grades dropping
- Apathy towards the future
- Thoughts of death
- Fixation on weight or weight loss
What can parents do to help?
Maintain open communication with
your child. All children should have a safe place to discuss problems such as grief, bullying, or stress. In addition, make sure they are getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, and exercising regularly. Try to limit screen time (phone, tablet, video games, computer) to two hours per day, and make sure they are safely using social media. Finally, teach coping skills such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to use during stressful times. Visit www.therapistaid.com for more tips on these relaxation techniques.
Who else can help?
- Navigating the mental healthcare system can be daunting. There are many resources available, but who should you reach out to? Here is a list of some options you may consider:
- Primary care physicians. These can be your child’s pediatrician or family doctor. They are a great first point of contact and are trained to recognize and treat some mental health problems.
- Psychiatrist. A physician who specializes in psychiatry. They can evaluate and diagnose mental health problems and prescribe medications if deemed necessary. Usually, they work in conjunction with a counselor.
- Psychologist. Licensed counselor with a graduate degree (master’s degree, PsyD, Ph.D.) in psychology who is trained to counsel individual or group settings. They can also administer certain tests pertaining to learning disorders or psychological health.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker. A social worker with additional clinical training in counseling.
- Licensed Counselor. Counselor with master’s degree in psychology with additional clinical training.
If you or your children are concerned about mental health and feel the need to seek help, please reach out to your physician or pediatrician. Do not wait!
940.455.7200 | LantanaPediatrics.com | 74 McMakin Rd., Ste. 100 • Bartonville, TX 76226