Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer at United Healthcare, joined Studio 512 Co-Host Rosie Newberry to share tips on how to better manage children’s emotional health and wellbeing as we head back to school.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the stress levels of students?
“We’re more than a year and a half into this pandemic, and it’s safe to say this challenging period has taken a toll on just about everyone. But yes, unfortunately, there is research that shows the pandemic may be affecting children and teenagers disproportionately.”
“Recent research from the Kaiser Family Fund reports that more than 25% of high school students have experienced worsening emotional and cognitive health since March 2020, and more than 20% of parents with children ages 5-12 reported similar worsening conditions for their children. And now, with kids returning to school, it’s important to keep a close eye on our children’s mental well-being — and do what we can to support them.”
How can parents help their children during this new school year?
Dr. Randall said there are a number of emotional wellness tips for parents to consider:
- For example, share information. The CDC is a great resource for information about the pandemic. Talk with your child, be emotionally supportive, and understand they may have many different types of anxieties.
- Be a good listener. Listening and watching are very important. Pay attention to more than just their words. Be aware of your children’s moods and uncharacteristic changes in behavior.
- Next, help your child feel secure. Let them know it’s OK to feel upset, scared, anxious, down and even angry. For teens, you may even want to consider introducing them to self-care tools like the Sanvello app to help navigate difficult emotions.
- Also, don’t be afraid to define boundaries and create regular routines. Consider limiting exposure to 24/7 news cycles and social media. You may even want to establish an afterschool routine, such as a sport or hobby. Sticking to set schedules is important for getting a good night’s sleep and can help create predictability that may help young people better cope with changes in other areas of their lives.
- And most importantly, seek expert support if needed. Discuss any concerns you have with a physician as soon as possible.
Is there anything else parents should be on the lookout for?
“Watch for signs of depression: Signs might include feeling sad or hopeless, being irritable, having a hard time paying attention, low energy or fatigue, feeling worthless, and showing self-injury and self-destructive behavior. Seek professional support for depression immediately to help reduce the chances of suicide and other possible self-harm behaviors.”
Where can viewers go to learn more about United Healthcare and managing children’s emotional health and wellbeing?
This segment is paid for by United Healthcare and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.