“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives, especially the lives of our children and teenagers who had almost every aspect of their daily routine disrupted,” said Manley. “Many students across the state are missing out on beloved activities such as spending time with peers and friends, sports, music and other extracurriculars.”
Before the pandemic, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety were becoming increasingly more common among children and teens. The current health crisis has made some of these problems more prevalent as young people can face increased stress over virtual learning, fear of getting sick, or loss of an activity or even the loss of a loved one. The CDC recommends parents keep an eye out for changes in patterns of behavior such as excessive irritation, poor school performance, difficulties with attention and avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past.
Manley recommends parents check out CDC guidelines and other online resources about youth mental health to recognize warning signs and ways to help. Throughout her time in the General Assembly, Manley has worked to prioritize mental health alongside physical health during the pandemic, including expanding telehealth services for mental wellness.
“Parents can help their children by limiting family screen time, keeping regular routines, and having honest conversations about feelings and insecurities their children may be experiencing,” continued Manley. “As the state is dealing with both a pandemic and extreme cold temperatures, problems with depression and anxiety can worsen. Parents must take the mental health of their children seriously, and it is important we acknowledge the grief they may feel and help them cope.”