The coronavirus pandemic has impacted kids’ mental health over the last year and we are just now discovering how far that goes.
In 2020, the percentage of mental health emergency visits for students 12-17 years old jumped 31% compared to 2019.
Hannah Griffis is the Mental Health Coordinator at the Care Center in Oklahoma City. She works with local children who are struggling the most. She said she has noticed two key issues causing kids stress right now, isolation and lack of stability.
"Taking that away from kids has been so, so harmful to mental health. In a lot of ways, it is what it is but it is getting to a point where it is not safe for kids to be alone anymore," said Griffis.
With students heading back to class, you would think the problem has been solved. Griffis said that is not necessarily the case. Reintroducing yourself to your friends after a year apart can cause anxiety for students.
Griffis works with several counseling agencies around the metro, and they have seen waitlists with 100’s of families or more.
"That is months and months for these families to get help and for me as a mental health professional that is extremely overwhelming um upsetting, frustrating all of those feelings so you can only imagine how those families feel," said Griffis.
Griffis suggests taking time to address mental health with your kids at home. Encourage them to share how they feel and validate their concerns.
"When someone is pushed to their limit what does it look like for them to feel better. Do they need time alone? Like hey if you want to go to your room for an hour and just be on TikTok that is fine we are not going to bother you," said Griffis.
If you or someone in your family needs help, you can access resources from the care center.