Watch for signs of depression during COVID-19 and know how to support your child’s mental well-being
The number of children and teenagers seeking help for anxiety or depression during the pandemic is rising across the country. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the percentage of children ages 5-11 seeking mental health care at emergency departments in 2020 increased by 24% from 2019. For children ages 12-17, mental health-related emergency room visits increased 31% over the previous year.
"The pandemic has been difficult, especially for kids who already struggle with depression and anxiety," says Brooke Gomez, LPC, a clinical therapist at Children's Health℠. "One of the things we advocate for mental health is reaching out, socializing and leaning on a social support system. But because of COVID-19, now we're telling families to do the opposite and stay socially distanced, to protect their physical health."
Kids may also be experiencing disappointment or grief about losing time with friends or missed milestones. One national survey of 3,300 high school students conducted early in the pandemic showed that 30% felt unhappy and depressed much more than usual. As the pandemic continues, those feelings may persist or deepen.
"Many kids are grieving a loss of a sense of normalcy," Gomez says.