By Rachel Hiller
Since the start of the pandemic, the youngest members of our families have suffered greatly. Disrupted schedules, missing out on time in school, time with friends and activities that they enjoy are taking a toll. As adults, we have all struggled to adapt to the new life that coronavirus has brought. Now imagine going through all of that as a child, someone without years of learning how to cope and deal with stress, or how to get help when you need it.
According to a study conducted by America’s Promise Alliance, young people’s levels of concern about the present and future have increased, and indicators of overall health and well-being have suffered. For example, 30 percent of young people say they have more often been feeling unhappy or depressed, and nearly as many say they are much more concerned than usual about having their basic needs met.
Bob Cannata, Vice President of Crisis Response Services said, “Young people are really missing their friends, and many of them need the opportunities to build social relationships and develop their play skills. They also pick up on the uncertainty and worries of their parents and caregivers, which increases their own stress levels.”
This is a major reason why kids may be increasingly moody, depressed, angry, disrespectful, or aggressive. Parents and caregivers may notice that smaller problems that existed before quarantine have become unmanageable now, fights more frequent, and kids may be, understandably, at their wit’s end.
Some kids, feeling overwhelmed and isolated, are experiencing increased depression and suicidal thoughts. A regular school routine usually means time and space apart that can be crucial when tensions rise in households, and school routines also mean access to school staff and counselors for kids.
Spectrum Health and Human Services’ Crisis and Restabilization Emergency Services (CARES) program works with kids and teens in crisis, helping them to problem-solve and stay safe, navigate moments of stress and tension, and ensure that they have the support they need when things go wrong. CARES can do home visits, or work with families on the phone when mental health symptoms or suicidal thoughts worsen.
Cannata said, “These are tough times for everyone, especially because there is so much stress on the natural supports that youth and families have. CARES is a phone call away from any youth or family experiencing a crisis, and we are here 24 hours, 7 days a week.
To learn more about Spectrum Health, visit our website at www.shswny.org. If your family is in crisis, please call CARES anytime at 716-882-4357.
Rachel Hiller is a Senior Crisis Clinician at Spectrum Health & Human Services.