The past year has been rough on our kids. From social isolation to virtual learning to missing celebrations and milestone events, the changes that took place in 2020 were just as upsetting and stressful to children as they have been to adults. Even worse, without the perspective that comes from age, many children may be stuck silently wondering if this situation is going to last forever. 

Extra studies are being done to examine the effects this pandemic will have on our children’s mental health. But for the time being, experts say it’s important for parents to provide their children with a sense of stability, calm and safety, and seek professional help if necessary.

QualChoice Health Insurance offers some information that can help:

Talk about Big Emotions

Grief, worry, stress and anger can be hard emotions for little ones to process, so it is important that parents encourage their kids to put feelings into words and develop productive coping mechanisms. According to the CDC, starting conversations with a statement, like, “COVID is a new disease, which can be confusing and scary, but I can answer your questions about it,” and following up with a question, like, “What scares you the most about COVID?” can start the conversation while promoting a sense of safety. 

Mental Illness in Children is an Existing Problem

It’s important to remember that children really CAN have mental health disorders. According to the American Psychological Association, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness present by age 14. Sometimes mental health issues are brought on by trauma, changes in environment or a major life event that causes intense feelings of fear, grief or loss. Mental illness is not always life threatening, but it should be addressed quickly to prevent issues related to self-esteem.  

Know the Signs of a Mental Illness

General fears and worries are normal for kids to have, but when your child doesn’t outgrow those fears or when their feelings start to interfere with normal school, social or home routines, that’s a sign that your child might need further attention. You know your child best. Luckily, these mental health issues can be treated! 

Look into Child Psychologists

There are lots of resources out there and counselors who can help. Child psychology is a specific field of study, so there are plenty of experts out there. Start by asking for recommendations from your child’s school, your pediatrician, your own general physician or search for community health centers. There are child therapists who specialize in specific issues like anxiety, bedwetting, OCD and overcoming social barriers. When you find a therapist, ask them if they have experience working with children. Also, make sure to ask if they are licensed, and check with your health insurance provider to find a list of covered therapists in your area. 

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All source information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Psychological Association (APA).