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How the pandemic has affected the mental health of children

Posted at 1:46 PM, Mar 23, 2022

Now two years into the pandemic experts say they are seeing a sharp increase in children's mental health issues.

Dr. Jim Polo from Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says,"Studies show that 15 percent of all kids suffered some sort of depression during 2021. That’s a pretty significant number of children that are struggling emotionally."

Polo says kids experience the same symptoms that present in adults struggling with mental health.

"Being anxious, being depressed, difficulties with sleep, changes in appetite, social withdrawal, lack of interest in activities."

Polo says you need to really stay in-tune with your children. Look at how they're doing in school, and keep an eye out for mood shifts and changes in behavior.

"Some kids don’t even understand their own emotions and they express emotions through bad behavior. So if your child is breaking the rules, and it just doesn’t seem to make sense, it could be that it’s really a sign of emotional distress," says Polo.

Talking and listening to your children is the best thing a parent can do to help.

Polo says,"Don’t assume that you know what it is that they’re struggling with. It’s very important to think about asking questions so you can better understand well, what’s the perspective that they’re worried about."

Remember that your child's concerns are most likely very different from what yours may be. Dr.Polo also recommends trying to get those talks in while doing something fun.

"Kids, you know, usually don’t do well with hey let’s sit down and talk. So you’ve got to kind of weave it into activities."

Keeping the lines of communication open between parents and their kids is key to this transition as things start to resume to more normal life.

"Jumping back into it is going to be a change that will require some adjustment as well."

Polo suggests rules, routines and structure to help kids during this time.

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