Mental health issues in adolescents doubled during pandemic, study shows

Published: Sep. 4, 2021 at 9:29 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2021 at 10:09 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/KHSB/CNN) - September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and perhaps it’s never been more important to talk about the issue now 18 months into a global pandemic.

For many children and young teens, their bodies are battling nerves, hormones and where they fit in in their communities. Add a global pandemic, and everything gets magnified, creating a huge impact on their mental health.

According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, twice as many kids and teens experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic than those that had pre-pandemic.

Globally, one in four were depressed, while one in five were dealing with elevated levels of anxiety. It’s no wonder as schools closed and remote learning became the norm.

Opportunities to meet up with peers or supportive adults outside the home dwindled. Extracurricular activities and hobbies all but stopped. Not to mention the constantly changing conditions and disruption to routine.

According to mental health experts, that chronic stress can lead to feeling hopeless, and that can lead to thoughts of suicide.

“We’re seeing kids come in for greater attempts at suicide or more severe attempts and that can be obviously really concerning because we know every life matters, every child matters,” Annmarie Arensberg, Director Of Clinical Operations at KVC Hospitals told KHSB. “We want every child to feel heard to feel seeing it to feel connected.”

However, there is a way to turn things around and help kids and teens cope in a healthier way. Experts say talk to your kids and keep as regular a routine as you can. Have them in school if it’s safe, monitor their sleeping and eating habits and their mood and remember to seek help from a mental health professional if necessary.

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