The pandemic: How it’s affecting your child’s’ mental health

Updated: Feb. 16, 2021 at 11:32 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As the pandemic continues, the impact on children across the country continues to increase.

“Younger kiddos maybe are less impacted from a social standpoint, because you know they’re not necessarily entering this stage of trying to be more independent and autonomous so that’s where the teenagers are really struggling where they’re supposed to be pulling away from parents and individuating and finding their way, with their peers and they’ve had less of that,” said Juliet Kuehnle, therapist at Sun Counseling and Wellness.

For parents, with the back-and-forth between in-person and remote learning -- on top of COVID concerns -- has created a recipe to seek help.

“I have never worked so many hours in a week,” said Kuehnle.

According to the CDC, from April through October 2020 ER visits related to mental health were up 24 percent for children 5-11 and up 31 percent for those 12-17. That’s compared to the same time period in 2019.

Part of the reason? These moms say the uncertainty and anxiety related to in-person learning.

“The interaction she needs, the teachers to look at her face and see that she doesn’t understand and see that she doesn’t even understand how to ask the question, she doesn’t need to be on a Zoom stream,” said parent Keitiaunna Howard.

Former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parent Nikki Gregg said the back-and-forth has been hard for her children. She withdrew them from the district and is now homeschooling.

“That’s been really hard for them to understand. It got to the point even when they were going to school the two days a week so much of that time was still sitting in a classroom, on a computer, which was not good for them either,” Gregg said.

Gregg said they’ve also added weekly counseling sessions and physical activities to help with with the mental health concerns.

It’s something Howard said she’s considered.

“And so it is something that I have begun to look into for her, and not just for her, for the rest of us in the family as help us figure out how we can gain some tools to help us to be successful,” she said.

There is hope a bit of normalcy will be just what the doctor ordered.

“They’re so resilient. And so I think especially if they have the context...having those developmentally appropriate conversations about why things have been happening the way they are and why they’re going to look the way they are going forward. They are so resilient, and so we can expect them to bounce back pretty quickly,” Kuehnle said.

Kuehnle recommends for parents to reach out to their doctor or mental health expert if they are need. Even if appointments are booked, alternatives can still be provided including virtual options.

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