Are youth being forgotten in the COVID-19 conversation? Ardi Ghimire, Mental Health Counselor for Salt Lake Community College's Center for Health & Counseling, says there are many reasons to be concerned about the isolation many kids and teens are experiencing.
She says being isolated or stuck at home, away from family or friends - can have a variety of impacts on youth, including creating or exacerbating current mental health issues, along with:
- Increased anxiety and depression
- Sleep Disorders
- Difficulty concentrating
- Potential increased abuse towards children
When it comes to younger kids, Ghimire says that one study found younger children 3-6 years old were more likely to manifest symptoms of clinginess and fear of family members getting sick. She says this age group is also vulnerable to:
- Increased irritability and inattention
- Disturbed sleep
- Poor appetite
- Separation anxiety
Teens are more vulnerable to impacts such as:
- Low self esteem
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Change in appetite-decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain.
- Tiredness and loss of energy
- Social withdrawal: If they are someone who used to enjoy playing games online, or posting on TikTok and no longer do that.
- Feelings of sadness which can include crying spells for no apparent reasons.
- Irritable or annoyed frequently.
Ghimire says parents need to stay vigilant monitoring their children's well-being during these unprecedented times. She also suggests parents pay close attention to their own mental health issues and seek professional evaluations for themselves and their children if they are concerned.
It's also important to maintain children's contact with families and friends. This can be done through online or through social platforms. However, at the same time it is also important to monitor excessive social media use.