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Omaha health experts raise concerns of mental health in children and teens during pandemic

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 4:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The effect of kids’ and teens’ mental health during the pandemic is concerning for local health experts.

A Methodist Health Pediatrician says he has seen an increase in anxiety and depression over the last year. It’s affecting kids in ages as young as elementary and as old as high school.

He says a lot of the kids are stressed out about things such as school work, being isolated from friends, and their family’s health. The worry is that the ramifications of the pandemic may linger long after it ends

“Kids are doing well in the sense that they’re not hospitalized with COVID, but they’re disproportionately affected with all the other side-effects of the pandemic. So we know there are mental health issues, there’s food insecurity, bigger issues with ADHD. There are issues with social skills and bullying, problems with school performance, so there are long-term effects we’re going to have to deal with,” said Matthew Gibson, MD, Methodist Physicians Clinic Pediatrician.

A therapist with Methodist Health says a lot of her work in the past year has been helping her young patients develop healthy coping strategies to handle stressors and helping families understand what options are available for treatment. She says it’s important for parents to check in with their kids as much as possible to get a good idea about how they’re feeling.

“There are real things that they are dealing with and often time they want to not bring that to their parents, but if parents can show them that they’re there for them and they’re willing to listen, more often than not they’ll come to you,” said Roxanne Wayne, Methodist Community Counseling Program Therapist.

Roxanne who is also a high school counselor, says another challenge this year has been helping students transition back to in-person learning.

To put this increase into perspective, a CDC report says in 2020, emergency admissions for mental health problems among adolescents were up 31% from the previous year.

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