Ashley T. Bell
Angel Kids Pediatrics
How many children Mental Health have been affected by Covid-19?
In the U.S. 15% of children make up the total amount of cases of Covid-19 and with that being on the rise it has shown a 10% increase, according to Mayoclinic.org. In an article by Kate Whiting, she states that the repercussions of covid-19 are more detrimental to children than the disease itself.
The statistics provided by UNICEF, WHO, and WFP as of September 2020 are as follows: An additional 6.7 million children under the age of 5 could suffer from wasting due to the socioeconomic effects brought on by the pandemic, 1.5 billion children have been out of school, 370 million children have missed out on free school meals, and 80 million children under the age of 1 could be at risk of other diseases due to the stall in immunizations.
What age groups are we talking about?
Covid-19 has impacted the mental health of many people since its start but the least talked about or noticed is children’s mental health between the ages of 3 and 17. Specifically speaking about children ranging from 3-11. Most adolescents and teens are able to communicate how they feel and talk about covid-19 and understand the basics of it, while it may be harder for younger children because it is new to them and they are still at the age of trying to understand the world.
What are the symptoms of stress in children?
Younger children may not know how to feel in this time of stress and show signs that parents may put off as a normal “temper tantrum”. Some children aren’t even aware that they’re stressed.
Emotional or behavioral symptoms include: being unable to relax, crying, aggressive/stubborn behavior, clinging, sleep problems, and not being able to control their emotions.
Physical symptoms include nightmares, bedwetting, and decreased appetite.
Symptoms broken down by age :
- Children less than 5 years old experience bedwetting, clinging to parents, and regression in behavior
- Children between the ages of 5 and 10 experience irritability, nightmares, aggressiveness, and poor concentration
- Children between the ages of 10 to 19 experience hyperactivity, agitation, sleeping/eating disturbances and delinquent behavior
How has Covid-19 put the clinical health of kids at risk?
There has been a significant decrease in wellness visits for kids. The number of children under 2 enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP receiving immunizations decreased more than 30% between January 2020 and May 2020. From March 2020 to May 2020, there was a drastic decline in health services for children 18 and under. However routine checkups aren’t the only thing being affected. Children with chronic diseases are also not coming in as much as they should either.
How can I Support my Child?
According to Harvard University, there are 4 key ways that can help support your children and yourself through the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The “serve and return”
This is just a normal back and forth interaction between you and your child. If your child ‘serves’ you with a chance to engage with them, it’s important to ‘return’ the favor with attention. (It can be as simple as a game of peekaboo!) This will help them build resilience and also improve the relationship between you and your child which is needed, especially during this time.
- Maintain social connections
Just because we have to keep our distance physically doesn’t mean we have to socially. Connecting with friends and family via video chat will help combat those effects of ongoing stress.
- Take a wellness break
Go for a walk or bike ride or spend some time outdoors.
- Call 211 for additional resources or help during the pandemic
For more information on 211 go to https://www.211.org/get-help/help-during-covid-19-pandemic
Children are the future so it is important that we help them to the best of our abilities. Growing up in a pandemic has proven to be hard on their physical development, social interactions, and mental health. A good first step for your children 12 years of age and older is to consider getting vaccinated.
For more information on Covid-19 vaccines in kids, visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/covid-19-vaccines-for-kids/art-20513332#to-top. As Covid-19 cases continue to appear and may not stop or go away for some time, the best we can do is be cautious and take care of ourselves, our loved ones, and especially our growing little angels.