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COVID Causing Adverse Mental Health In Adolescents

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
COVID Causing Adverse Mental Health In Adolescents

18 months into the COVID pandemic and professionals are seeing a major impact on the mental health of adolescents.

The CDC recently reported a 24 percent increase in emergency room visits for kids ages 5 to 11 related to mental health emergencies. In kids aged 12-17, there was a 31 percent increase due to depression or anxiety.

Local pediatric occupational therapist Heidi Clopton said that isolation, disruption in routine, and media itself can cause distress in kids.

“Take away all the normalcy and then everything in the media is ‘This many people are dying,’ and it’s horrible to hear as a child about this,” Clopton said. “And we don’t think about this as an adult because we can understand logically, ‘Well that’s how many people that is,’ but they’re hearing a lot about death and people being sick.”

Clopton said that anxiety can manifest itself in several ways. She said parents should be on the lookout for kids pulling away, atypical fidgeting, or doing poorly in school.

Clopton said that the best thing parents can do is open up a conversation. She said checking in with your children is a good way to provide them a safe way to discuss their feelings and work through them. In terms of maintaining their mental well-being, Clopton said kids and teens should be stimulated through the outdoors, socialization, and exercise.

Sometimes things of this nature can be overwhelming for parents. Clopton said that she recommends getting referrals to counselors if they so choose.

Clopton said that one concern of hers for the future of younger kids who grew up during this time is their ability to understand facial expressions. She said that they are already seeing signs of difficulties with engaging in kids who had are currently in their developmental years.

“I do worry with the younger generation how that will affect them reading emotions. How do we read emotions when half the people in our lives maybe have a mask on. That kind of what I’ve seen in three and four-year-olds that have grown up in their social development during this pandemic. They’re now coming in and getting evaluations and they’re very difficult to engage. They’re very difficult to get them to look at your face and follow your facial expressions, and they’re kind of in their own world.”

The post COVID Causing Adverse Mental Health In Adolescents appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.