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COVID19: The Mental Toll on Children

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6 Top Questions About COVID-19: What a Child Psychiatrist Has to Say

On the latest episode of “The Road to a Vaccine,” host Lisa Ling delves into the effects of the pandemic on kids. We sat down with one of the guests, Vikram Patel, a professor at Harvard Medical School, to find out the most pressing questions on his mind.

Q: When do you think the United States will return to a semblance of normal, if you could predict it?

A: Compared to other large and diverse countries, the U.S. is unique in that every state can devise its own policy, which means you are seeing 52 different experiments happening in the same county.

Some states, like Massachusetts, have done remarkably well, but others have not, and it comes down to variations in state policies.

All this is to say that it’s difficult to predict when normalcy will return to the country as a whole.


Covid-19: Nine in 10 teachers fear pandemic has damaged mental health of pupils

Barnardos NI survey finds 90% of teachers believe ability of schools to support students has dropped

Nine in 10 teachers surveyed in Northern Ireland believe the Covid-19 pandemic will damage the mental health and well being of pupils, a children’s charity has said…

Changed environment

Julie Healy, head of programmes at Barnardos NI, said: “With the new term on the horizon, schools are preparing to continue their learning in a changed environment and we must act on this opportunity to put children’s mental health at the heart of education.”

She said for many children, school is their lifeline, their safe space, and going back to school will offer vital support.

“Schools cannot take on this challenge alone though, and support and guidance from our Government will be crucial,” Ms Healy said.

“Based on the findings of our survey, we’re calling for the mental health and well being of pupils to be prioritised in the recovery curriculum.

“We’d also like to see clear, child-centred guidance developed in consultation with schools, and increased investment for mental health support in schools.” – PA

August 12, 2020

COVID-19 disproportionately affecting mental, physical health of families with children

..In the current national survey conducted in the U.S., the investigators aimed to determine how the pandemic and related quarantine efforts affected the emotional and physical well-being of children and parents in the U.S. through early June. They administered the survey to parents with children younger than 18 years on changes in their health, insurance status, childcare, use of public food assistance resource, food security and use of health care services since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results showed 27% of parents reported worsening mental health for themselves, and 14% reported worsening behavioral health for their children since March. Before vs. after March, the proportion of families with moderate or severe food insecurity increased from 6% to 8%, employer-sponsored insurance coverage of children decreased from 63% to 60% and 24% of parents reported losing regular childcare. Further, parental worsening mental health occurred along with worsening child behavioral health for children in nearly one in 10 families. Of these families, 48% reported loss of regular childcare, 16% reported insurance status change and 11% reported worsening food security…

Home Alone: The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 Isolation on Infants, Children, and Adolescents

“I think kids who are vulnerable to depression, either due to family history or previous diagnosis, will be at greater risk. Kids with anxiety disorders, who were school phobic, did great now, but we’ve lost a lot of ground [in terms of reintegration].” Basically, she says, we can expect to see a “worsening of pre-existing vulnerabilities, leading to serious psychiatric issues.” She also emphasizes that, “all of these are potentially things to worry about, as part of a trauma and loss story…”

With extended parental depression, says Dr Briggs, “Even toddlers themselves can become depressed. They may show changes in eating, sleeping and engagement. One of the most wonderful toddler characteristics is their glee in everything we put in front of them. A sign of concern would be if their affect is blunting,” she explains.

Of course, these are simply areas of concern. The extended impact of COVID-19 isolation will depend on how long it lasts, and how families and clinicians respond to this period…

The bottom line? Just like Dr Briggs, Dr Fink says much of the work here falls on parents. “As we do it, our kids will do it. We must acknowledge that it’s really hard. We’re sad and mad. But we can also figure out ways to do things differently. And that’s a good starting point.”