Before the pandemic, the rise of children’s mental health issues was already on a steady climb. However, lockdown procedures have disrupted normalcy for kids’ mental health. Those who benefited from the structure are having a difficult time adapting to distance learning. Now, a startling new report finds a 55% increase in emergency room visits for children ages 5-17 experiencing mental health issues.
Kids with various mental health issues are experiencing setbacks in their treatment plans. Our responsibility as their caretakers is to ensure that we put our children’s mental health first. Seeing changes in your children’s behavior can be scary, and you might feel overwhelmed.
Here are tips for when ADHD and autism symptoms heighten or when depression in children appears for the first time.
Effects of COVID-19 and Children’s Mental Health
COVID-19 turned our worlds upside down. It’s easy to forget that your child has their own set of worries. They’re navigating this pandemic as us.
However, kids are expected to learn new subjects remotely, miss out on social milestones and rights of passages, while dealing with loneliness from isolation. Depending on their age, they’re also experiencing a change in hormones.
All of these issues can lead to confusing times for any child. These issues only get exasperated when a child has a history of mental health issues.
In October 2020, more children than ever were admitted to an emergency room for mental health-related concerns.
The increases were:
- Ages 5-11: 24%
- Ages 12-17: 31%
These numbers are concerning. As parents, adults, and caring community members, we should be prepared to help and nurture these children.
Let’s discuss some of the common kids mental health disorders and how COVID-19 has specifically impacted them. That way, you can empathize with their feelings and better meet their unique needs.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
The report I referenced earlier was by National Public Radio (NPR). They profiled the story of a mother whose child was on the autism spectrum.
Her child was so used to the structure of going to school and the professional support she received in-person. The child’s autism symptoms got so severe that the seven-year-old took off her pants and walked to the store to buy a bag of chips.
As her mom tried to help her, the child got violent and attacked the mom. Her mom called the cops to intervene.
For a child with autism, it is very important that their regular routine isn’t interrupted. While education is crucial, the essentials that a human needs to function must remain the backbone. Aim to keep mealtime, bedtime, and hygiene times uninterrupted.
Next, try to emulate the same schedule your loved one followed at school. The same subject should come around the same time. Obviously, if you work from home, this can be a challenge.
Sit down with both of your schedules. Try to find ways to maintain a semblance of familiarity in your child’s schedule. Find areas where you can acquiesce. If you can’t, then see what sacrifices you can make for your child’s schedule.
Perhaps their exercise time has to change. Combine it with reading time by getting them a therapy ball chair that works on their core while stimulating their mind.
When you see autism symptoms worsening, introduce activities that calm them. It’s okay to break the routine and do arts-and-crafts or go for a walk outside.
Use this time as an opportunity to explore your child’s personality and unique needs. These are moments we wouldn’t get if they were at school. While it’s stressful at the moment, these roadblocks are creating a more incredible bond in the long run that we would never replace.
Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
With distanced learning, it’s easier for your child to get away with their ADHD symptoms. They aren’t drawing attention away from the class. However, that means they don’t have a tutor to reel them in as effectively.
As a working parent, it’s hard to be with your child at all times. We are grateful for the teachers who willingly step into that role every day. Now, we are left juggling a career and attending to our child’s every need. Using all-natural supplements can help your child focus.
Tranquility Labs’ Focusene is an excellent way to support your child’s cognitive function during school hours. It is fortified with all-natural botanicals, like dandelion and forskolin. These herbs have scientifically shown they boost cAMP levels. cAMP is energy for our brain cells.
The surplus of energy is complemented by this formula’s L-Theanine content. This amino acid promotes the production of GABA, a calming brain chemical. That way, your child won’t become overstimulated by this sudden increase of brainpower.
This surge in neural energy is further supported by phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that is the precursor to dopamine, our mind’s reward center. So, your child will have the brainpower to focus at school and feel good about it when they excel!
If you have a child with ADHD, it’s important to check in with them during the school day regularly. They can quickly become distracted playing a game offscreen or watching TV in the distance. It would be best to continue this trend of “checking in” even when school hours are over.
Many people look at a child with ADHD symptoms as a kid who is overstimulated. However, that stimulation gets stifled significantly when they enter isolation.
Turning the dial down too much can cause an opposite effect on a hyperactive child. It can make them feel bored, sluggish, and depressed.
Schedules are also important. Not knowing what to expect next can set your child’s ADHD symptoms off. Create a bulletin board that plans out each day so that they stay on track.
Check off each task as it’s done like they accomplished a reward. Such a small gesture like this one can alleviate anxiety in kids and soothe their ADHD symptoms.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by washing your hands and sanitizing surfaces. These health tips caused my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tendencies to go into a tailspin. It’s probably doing the same for your child.
You should obviously stress the importance of hygiene with your child, but don’t make too many changes to their cleaning routine. Chances are, you’re staying in place. So, there’s no need for extra cleaning.
What a child hears can severely impact their mental health. As a parent, you are the primary media and news consumer. Limit what you discuss in front of your child if you start to notice OCD symptoms.
Only explain topics that are pertinent to anything they’re doing that day. For instance, let them know of any new local restrictions if you plan on going to dinner.
Otherwise, they don’t need to know the latest percentage point in the county. That is your discretion, but these topics might be unnecessary for a child with anxiety.
OCD isn’t just about cleaning. You can substitute cleaning with counting, pacing, or hoarding. If you notice a pattern in behaviors, try to create welcomed distractions.
Offer to play dress up and watch their favorite movie. Schedule a family Zoom lip-synch battle with the cousins. Create events that give your child something to look forward to. Perhaps they can convert their energy into excitement rather than dwelling in their compulsions.
It’s easy to understand why there is a rise in anxiety in kids. As parents, we’re anxious, too.
Adults had years of a life without a pandemic to create coping mechanisms in the face of stress. Our brains are also more mature and developed. So, we can interpret the information we learn about the coronavirus as it becomes available.
Children are dealing with handicaps in each of these avenues. They don’t have the life experience to deal with the little things, let alone how to navigate a pandemic!
The unknown is one of the biggest anxiety triggers. So, it’s important to have open conversations with your child. If they are comfortable talking about their worries, they won’t bottle it up. Allowing these emotions to fester is a primary cause of anxiety in kids.
Teens are going to deal with anxiety worse because of their hormonal changes. They also must compete with the social stressors of friendships and dating. However, teens have this huge obstacle known as social distancing.
As parents, we have to ride a fine line of protecting their best interests and giving them the freedom to be teens. Helicopter parenting will only add to their anxiety. However, they still need to take this pandemic seriously.
Try to be proactive in their plans. Be aware of what they’re doing and where they’re going.
There are many opportunities for teens to hang out safely. They just sometimes need ideas, and it might have to be out-of-the-box.
Drop them off at restaurants you know are practicing social distancing and look for outdoor dining options if weather permits. Suggest they go to a Farmer’s Market and check out the free samples. Let the 16-year-old borrow the car for a drive-in with a sibling.
Take the time to look up local social distancing events and suggest them to your teen. Even if they don’t take you up on it, it lets them know that you care about their social well-being!
One of the most significant impacts of COVID-19 and children is the rise in depression. Depression in children is becoming more common because they are being kept away from friends and loved ones.
They’re missing out on experiences like graduation and prom. Some aren’t able to touch and hug their grandparents. It’s a lot for a child to compartmentalize and deal with.
If you see signs of depression in your child, try setting up a telehealth appointment. Ask your kid if they’d like to talk to a specialist.
Nowadays, mental health shaming or embarrassment has dwindled. Everyone from Selena Gomez to Michelle Obama to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has benefited from therapy.
This essential vitamin is crucial for many neurological functions. When there isn’t enough, communication patterns can become disrupted, which could result in depression in children.
Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene is fortified with Vitamin D3. In addition to supporting healthy brain patterns, Vitamin D3 also helps create serotonin, a chemical responsible for our mood. This feel-good hormone is made when Vitamin D3 interacts with tryptophan, another essential ingredient in Tranquilene.
Tranquilene is also fortified with GABA. As I mentioned earlier, this neurotransmitter helps promote calm throughout the central nervous system. This formula is further enhanced with L-Theanine, an amino acid that encourages even more natural GABA production!
Supporting Children’s Mental Health During Pandemic
The tagline for this pandemic has been “alone together.” For children, they might feel a little closer to the alone side of things than together. As adults, it’s our job to help kids mental health by assuring them that things will get better.
The most effective way of achieving this feat is by being there. Don’t smother your child but remain engaged. Check-in on them and try keeping an open line of communication.
Pay close attention to changes in their patterns or behaviors. When you notice these shifts, try to veer them back into a schedule. Engage them in fun activities to discourage any negative attitudes.
When depression in children, anxiety in kids and teens, or OCD, ADHD, and autism symptoms get out of hand, it’s okay to seek help. There are professionals available that can give you advice for your particular situation. Use these resources for your own sanity.
Speaking of which, carve out self-care time. It’s important. If you aren’t healing yourself, you aren’t putting your best self forward for the person that needs you most.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep. That will be your time to clear the fog of your hectic day. Unfortunately, those moments tend to come with a lot of chatter. You go over every decision you made that day as a spouse, parent, and employee.
Help clear that chatter quickly with Tranquility Labs’ Sleep-Fast. This all-natural melatonin spray helps lower cortisol levels naturally. That way, your mind relaxes, freeing it up to catch up on some much-needed rest.
Taking care of children’s mental health is hard work, but it’s necessary, possibly even lifesaving. When in doubt, get reinforcements and ask for help. Hang in there. Your kids are counting on you.
- Children’s mental health issues are on the rise since the start of the pandemic
- Many cases of depression in children are due to isolation and lack of education
- It’s okay to seek help when OCD, ADHD, or autism symptoms get too severe
- Take care of yourself, too!