Since the early days of the pandemic, mental health issues have been a big cause of concern in all affected countries. Multiple reports have shown more than three-fold increases in disorders including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in both adults and even children.
Although the current medical data focuses more on both young and older adults, mental health experts state that children have been equally affected by the various outcomes of the pandemic. For instance, lack of socialization due to online school and staying at home for a long time have caused panic and depression in the kids even from healthy families.
In addition, even though financial insecurity is typically experienced by adults, it can also impact children. Discussions on money-related issues and other similar problems can also pass down the worry to kids leading to them also constantly think about their own expenses for school, food, and other necessities.
Secondly, arguments, especially between parents can significantly affect a child’s mental health especially when they do not have any person to share their feelings or talk to due to staying at home and not having frequent contact with friends or other relatives.
All of these factors can contribute to the development of mental health disorders. In extreme cases, they may even lead to suicide ideation.
According to recent reports on children’s mental health, suicide ideation has increased along with suicide rates to a big extent since the beginning of pandemic-related problems. One news release from Penn State Health warns parents and families while advising them to visit primary healthcare providers upon noticing symptoms of suicide ideation in children.
Some of the common signs of mental health disorders in children are loss of appetite, lack of talking, inability to focus, irritability, and increase or lack of sleep. Any other changes in normal behavior may also be an indicator of mental health issues.
If any changes do appear, try to talk to the child about his or her feelings. In case there are signs of depression or suicide ideation, it is better to go to get professional help for a possible diagnosis with a treatment plan in order to keep the child from self-harm.
However, pediatric experts state that it is better to avoid such a situation in the first place. To reduce the impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health, there is a need to be cautious especially while discussing any matter in front of the kids.
Do not talk about any financial or familial problems in front of the children. Also, try to discuss any issues calmly in a separate space rather than arguing or fighting about them. This can help in avoiding negative mental outcomes on kids as well as familial burnout.
In addition to such changes, try to arrange more activities that can encourage staying and having fun together such as playing games, video calling relatives or exercising together. Talking to children separately is also equally important as it can help in understanding any of the problems they may be having.