Continuing Alarm for Children’s Mental Health in The Age of Covid

Rady Children’s Hospital here in San Diego is seeing a 25% increase in child mental health issues to their emergency room. Granted, the rate may have been going up in years prior to Covid, but it is worse since the pandemic started. Similarly, Children’s Hospital Colorado declared its first mental health emergency. Symptoms include suicidal ideation and attempts, perhaps due to isolation and stress about returning to school.

I wrote a post on mental health coping mechanisms. Please read them. I learned these lessons over 28 years and have been there. Also, feel free to leave a post here, too, if you are in need of some suggestions or an open ear.

If your kids or you are having any suicidal ideation, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). People care about you.

Symptoms to watch for, from the National Insitute for Mental Health:

Young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:

  • Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time
  • Often talk about fears or worries
  • Complain about frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause
  • Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing videogames)
  • Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares, or seem sleepy during the day
  • Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends
  • Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades
  • Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen.

Older children and adolescents may benefit from an evaluation if they:

  • Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy
  • Have low energy
  • Sleep too much or too little, or seem sleepy throughout the day
  • Are spending more and more time alone, and avoid social activities with friends or family
  • Diet or exercise excessively, or fear gaining weight
  • Engage in self-harm behaviors (such as cutting or burning their skin)
  • Smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs
  • Engage in risky or destructive behavior alone or with friends
  • Have thoughts of suicide
  • Have periods of highly elevated energy and activity, and require much less sleep than usual
  • Say that they think someone is trying to control their mind or that they hear things that other people cannot hear.

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