Friday, March 24, 2023

How COVID-19 ‘stole children’s happiness’, sparking a mental health emergency

No individual school. separation from friends. The rites of passage like graduation ceremonies were lost. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the lives of many children in the United States.

“A lot of happiness for kids comes from being with friends or from sports, and from social interaction. When you ask kids, ‘What makes you happy?’ 90% of the time, it’s happening around friends or working out with friends,” says Elena Mickelson, chief of the psychology section at Children’s Hospital of San Antonio in Texas. “It was taken away during the pandemic. …for the longest time, all the kids had academics and no happiness.”

A recent report found that the uncertainty and disruption caused by COVID-19 has negatively affected the emotional and mental health of nearly a third of America’s youth. Not only this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with other children’s health organizations, has declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

“Increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, or stress,” says Nirita Panchal, a senior policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit focusing on national health issues. “There have also been several changes in behavior that parents have reported with some children having poor appetite and difficulty sleeping. For others, it may be fear or irritability and clumsiness.”

Kindergarten teacher Nicole Jones gives an online lesson to her virtual students as she teaches at Kreutzer Elementary School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, US, on April 13, 2021.

Panchal co-authored the report, which found that 8% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 currently suffer from anxiety. This number rises to 13% in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.

“During the pandemic, children, like everyone else, have experienced many changes and disruptions,” Panchal says. “This includes school closures, possibly financial difficulties at home, isolation, perhaps the loss of loved ones and then difficulty accessing health care. Therefore, all of these factors may contribute to increased mental health issues in children.”

There has been a steady increase in child mental health concerns and suicide rates between 2010 and 2020, according to the AAP, which says the pandemic has caused a “dramatic increase” in the number of youth visiting hospital emergency rooms for mental health concerns. increased” has made the crisis even worse. including possible suicide attempts.

Maryland psychologist Mary Karapetian Alvord says that uncertainty, as well as losing out on school activities, provoke various levels of sadness in young people.

“Especially the high school students, who really lost out on all the fun activities, the fun clubs, and graduation and homecoming, the soccer games and all the social as well as the outlets they had,” says Alvord, who also is an assistant associate professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “So, those themes that dominate this pandemic are, I think, the grief, the loss at all those different levels, and then just the constant uncertainty. And then we see increased anxiety.”

Students Play Instruments During A Socially Distance Band Practice At Orefield Middle School On April 12, 2021 In Orefield, Pennsylvania.

Students play instruments during a socially distance band practice at Orefield Middle School on April 12, 2021 in Orefield, Pennsylvania.

Elvord says that the young people she sees in her practice have a feeling that they are not progressing, which has led to anger, frustration, sadness and anxiety.

“It runs the gamut, but the kids have lost time,” she says. “They have a sense that they’ve lost time, and not just maybe in terms of some of the academic skills that a lot of schools are concerned about, but in terms of maturity. How do you mature as a kid? ? It’s not from being at home 24/7.”

And when children missed school with their friends, the idea of ​​returning to individual classes also caused some concern.

“Some children were afraid to go back to school because they were afraid of contracting COVID. They were afraid of what school might look like and what it would involve, especially children who were already prone to anxiety or depression,” says psychologist Necacia Hammond, former president of the Florida Psychological Association. “It basically made that process more stressful. And going back to not just school but social situations.”

The pandemic has shaken the sense of security of most children. More than 140,000 children in the United States have lost a primary and/or secondary caregiver to COVID-19.

“Most children have this innocence, in a way, that the world is safe. ‘I’ll be fine. People are here to protect me,'” Hammond says. “And it took away for a lot of kids who don’t feel that the world is safe.”

Children of color have been disproportionately affected by the damage caused by the pandemic. And not only because they were more likely to lose a loved one to the virus.

Mickelson, who worked primarily with minority youth and inner-city youth in Texas, found that many of the children she spoke to were forced to use their smartphones for their schooling. Because he didn’t have a computer at home. The spotty internet connection made it difficult to keep in touch with their schoolwork and get their assignments done.

Students Socially Distance Play During Gym Class At Kreutzer Elementary School On April 13, 2021 In Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Students socially distance play during gym class at Kreutzer Elementary School on April 13, 2021 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Some mikkelsenThe young patients of K were alone at home all day because their parents are essential, frontline workers.

“A lot of the kids I was talking to during the pandemic were completely alone at home, left there to be alone and, ‘Hey, if you can join the school, that would be great, but If you don’t, no big deal. mikkelsen it is said. “So many of the kids I spoke to slept all day and had no one to talk to. Things like this can really lead to a lot of depression and anxiety.”

And then the police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, caused social upheaval. A video of police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd struggled to breathe has gone viral, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality.

“It’s all on top of a global pandemic that affects kids of color in a different way, saying, ‘You can’t go to school, and you’ve lost a loved one.’ It was originally more complicated,” Hammond says. “There were so many different stressors at one time, which made it extremely difficult to cope and approach mental health.”

The AAP is calling for more federal funding for mental health screening and treatment for all children through adolescence, with an emphasis on helping some children from less privileged households get the services they need.

“We don’t want to wait until it becomes unbearable. We want scaffolding and services to hold the kids when they are having so much trouble,” Alvord says. Tied up, and if your family is doing better, those kids are sent to school and they’re doing better in school. Which helps with the overall health of the classroom. Which helps teachers better teach and do what they need to, rather than deal with a mental health crisis. “


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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