Isolation and lack of social connection is proving extremely detrimental to the mental health of children. Recent data from the Center for Disease Control show mental health related emergency room visits for children ages 5-11 has increased 21% since April of 2020. Mental health visits for children ages 12-17 have gone up by 30%. VERY DISTURBING!
Much of this increase is blamed on social isolation! Dr Poulsen of the University of Miami Health System said: “One of the most persistent issues that affects the risk for mental health exacerbations has been the social isolation of our youth that is required for reducing the spread of the (Covid19)virus.” The best protections against depression are family, peer, and school connections, which have all been negatively impacted quarantine. This isolation has been particularly devastating to children who have been deprived of counseling and treatment for specific difficulties.
Experts tell us that there are several thing parents can do to keep their children more involved and happy. 1) Prioritize counseling and treatment. Video calls can be very helpful. 2) Help your child maintain social connections. Unconventional approaches such as video calls with friends and relatives, socially distanced outdoor activities, and parental/family conversations are helpful. 3) Keep social interconnections to the extent feasible with support systems in the community, family, and school. Take hikes with friends, go cross country skiing, help underserved families, encourage hobbies.
Clearly the ability to have something to look forward to also plays an important role. Many of you are aware that Kingsley Pines Camp successfully (No Covid19. Happy and involved staff and children) provided a 4 ½ week summer experience in the woods of Maine in 2020. Parents have told us that their children who attended the session developed more resilience, curiosity, and responsibility for themselves. We are counting on providing equally safe and meaningful sessions during the Summer of 2021.