Schools across the country are headed back to school this month. After virtual instruction, restricted school experiences, a myriad of COVID safety precautions followed by an influx of school shootings, the mix of emotions kids are facing is taking a toll on mental health. An already growing crisis, it’s no surprise that the last two years of serial catastrophe have impacted youth mental health.
Schools have reported seeing an increase in shoving and pushing in the hallways exhibiting more aggression and violence. There are an alarming number of fights among students and even reports of violence against school staff and teachers. Many students are also hurting themselves and experiencing intense anxiety that is showing up in peer relationships and academic success. There has been a rise in students reporting self-harm and suicidal thoughts and attempts. Mental health providers are seeing kids with more behavioral issues, aggression, depression, and needing to be assessed for suicide risk.
A once safe space for learning and socialization, violence in school, bullying, and illness exposure are leaving kids afraid, panicked, and experiencing a real sense of personal risk. As parents, it’s important to ensure that our children feel safe. One of the most important ways parents can help is by listening to their children and taking their feelings seriously.
Mental health problems affect around one in six children. They include depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder (a type of behavioral problem) and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.
Ways to create a safe space for children to learn:
- Encourage healthy peer relationships
- Expose children to opportunities to feel connected through sports, after school activities and clubs/meeting groups
- Provide children with a safe outlet to express themselves through art therapy, yoga, dance or band
- Encourage your child(ren) to speak out when they need support
- Check in with your children daily regarding their day, their experiences and any concerns they may be having
- Connect your child to a therapist who can create a safe space for your child to feel heard
Having friends makes the tough times a little bit easier.
If you or someone you know is in need of support reach out to Licensed Clinical Therapist Nigeria McHellon and her team of therapist at New Perspectives Therapeutic Services.
Visit their website at https://newperspectivestherapeuticservices.com/ or call 904.439.6524 for additional information.