ATLANTA – Some medical experts say the coronavirus pandemic is creating a mental health crisis among children.
Dr. Hansa Bhargava is a pediatrician and the senior medical editor for WebMD. She said the increase in mental health issues among children is a pandemic within a pandemic.
“I think that the combination of not having in-person learning and as well as having activities like sports or birthday parties or all those social activities cancelled have really left the kids in an unfortunate position,” Dr. Bhargava said.
She said the isolation and drastic changes throughout the last 18 months have made mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts more common among children.
“The American Academy of pediatrics just released a policy statement in the last few days saying that all health visits at the pediatrician office should have screening for mental health issues. That’s how prevalent it is,” Dr. Bhargava said.
She said teenagers are generally more prone to mental health problems, but she believes children as young as 8 could show troubling signs.
“They don’t want to talk to you that much anymore, they’re not interested in activities, they may feel like participating in things they used to. They may not want to eat or sleep. They may even have stomach aches or headaches. so make sure you’re aware that these could be symptoms of mental health issues,” she said.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again.
The Georgia Department of Public health reported more than 10,000 new cases on Monday.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children make up 14 percent of the total reported COVID-19 cases in the US.
School districts in the Atlanta area have already reported hundreds of new cases in students and staff.
Dr. Bhargava said it’s important for people to continue to do what they can to keep the virus from spreading and to make sure children don’t suffer the consequences.
“Their mental health has suffered, their learning has suffered and their social buffers have suffered. What we can do as a society is go get vaccinated and put the masks on for indoor events. And get children back in school with masks on so the kids can have some normalcy back into their lives,” she said.
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