The Pandemic has Adversely Affected Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

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The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact around the world, causing millions of deaths and leading to many more people becoming severely ill and losing loved ones. It also has led to many mental health impacts, including on children and adolescents.

Examining the impact on children in 11 countries, a January study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that kids experienced increased anxiety, depression and other mental health impacts that are associated with school closures and lockdowns. Another study published in June by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that suicide attempts among adolescent girls have increased during the pandemic.
What are some signs that your child may need help? What should parents do to address the continuing impact on children’s mental health? What about kids who are anxious about resuming pre-pandemic activities?
To help us with these questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also author of “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health,” and the mother of two young kids.
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CNN: How can parents recognize signs that their children may need help?
Dr. Leana Wen: It depends on the age of your child. For younger children, signs of stress and mental health challenges could manifest as increased crying, more intense tantrums, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and increased anxiety when having to separate from caregivers.
Older children and adolescents may show signs like trouble with schoolwork, problems with memory or concentration, and changes in behavior like withdrawing from friendships. Look for changes that aren’t usual for your child, like loss of interest in activities that they previously enjoyed and alterations in sleep or eating or exercise.


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