Research Topic: COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s Mental Health Impact on Children and Adolescents.
I am interested in this topic because, first and foremost, I am mom; I have two boys in elementary school who have not seen inside of a classroom since March of 2020. Although I am very thankful that as of now, my boys seem alright, they are happy and seem well adjusted, I often worry about their lack of interaction or socialization with friends and other close relatives. I also cannot help but think about the many kids out there that are having a hard time adjusting and has no support system at home. This does worry me a lot. Secondly, as a Human Services Major student, this topic is especially important to me. These kids and their families could very likely be the exact ones that I get to work with in the near future. My hope is that if these kids and families can get the help that is needed right now then then they could soon be on the right track to recovery.
SOURCE 1: Imran, N., Zeshan, M., & Pervaiz, Z. (2020). Mental health considerations for children & adolescents in COVID-19 Pandemic. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, 36, S-1-S-6.
According to Imran, Zeshan and Pervaiz, although the number of children affected by COVID-19 Virus is small and most of the affected children only experience mild symptoms, they explained that “the disease and containment measures are likely to negatively impact the mental health and well-being of children”. They highlighted the fact that children are vulnerable because they have limited understanding of the event and that school closures and separation from friends can cause stress and anxiety. Imran, Zeshan and Pervaiz points out that some of the symptoms of stress and anxiety include disturbances in sleep and appetite and impairment in social interactions. The authors used research study to support their claim; one of the research studies was from China where children and adolescents were screened for behavioral and emotional distress due to the Pandemic. In this research they found that clinginess, distraction, irritability and fear of family members contracting the virus were the most common behavioral problems Identified. They also highlighted that fact that the Pandemic had brought about financial losses to many families and that too can heighten the stress levels in these households. They went on to say that during the pandemic, there were increased reports of suspected child abuse, neglect and exploitation in the State of Texas.
Imran, Zeshan and Pervaiz used recent studies and research to support their claims and these claims appear to be plausible. They present a strong argument that The Pandemic is indeed affecting children and adolescents’ mental health. The authors suggested a few ways of connected with loved ones during the pandemic and one was through video chat. My thought about this is that unfortunately, many households cannot afford internet or even telephone service. During the start of the pandemic and before, many low-income American families could not afford internet or phone service and the kids of these households were not even able to connect with their peers for school and were also not able to connect with other family members. I can see how these families seemed even more isolated than those who were able to use technology to connect.
The authors are all in the Psychology field and they corroborated to write this highly informative scholarly article. They have presented extraordinarily strong arguments to support their claim and they have presented ways to help children and adolescents cope with stress and anxiety during and after the pandemic.
SOURCE 2: KLUGER, J. (2020). The Kids Are Not Alright. TIME Magazine, 196(5/6), 64–67.
In this Article, Kluger highlights the fact that COVID-19 affects various age groups differently, with 65 and older being the population who is more like to get hospitalized and even die from the virus. Just like Imran, Zeshan and Pervaiz, Kluger he seems to suggest that “although the virus seems to spare most kids bodies, it’s not being as kind to their minds”. In this article, Ezra Golberstein, a health-policy researcher at the University of Minnesota said, “I worry that kids will get a double wallop”. She explained that kids must deal with the disease itself and fear of it and on top of that they have got the lockdowns, with kids removed from the school environment and their friends. Kluger used a study out of China to further support his claims. This study examined a sample group of 2,330 school children for signs of emotional distress. The kids had been locked down for an average of 33.7 days and found that even after that single month 22.6% of the children reported depressive symptoms and 18.9% were experiencing anxiety. Like Imran, Zeshan and Pervaiz, Golberstein found that job lost during the pandemic causes mental health problems in children – she states that “when the economy is in a bad place, kids mental health gets worse”. Another important point highlighted by this article is that children who were already using mental-health services are at higher risk and that it is especially important that these services are not disrupted.
In Klugers article, Silver said that, “If there is one thing that’s certain about the impact of the pandemic on young mind, it’s that it’s not going to stop until the spread of COVID-19 itself does”. I strongly disagree with silver on this point; I believe that the impact will be less once the spread of COVID-19 stops but I do believe that there will be some children and adolescents who would require mental health services well after the pandemic ends. Except this point I believe that this article used lots of studies and statements from credible health professionals to support their claims. I do believe that the pandemic has had and will probably continue to negatively impact children’s mental health. Some families are better equipped to handle changes and challenges while others not so much and those are the families who will be most affected.
The author is a writer for Time Magazine and have used recent studies, health researcher to help come up with plausible arguments to support his claims and as a result I find this article very credible. I believe his main target audience is parents and health officials.
Partice Harris MD, MA, discusses the Pandemics Impact on children and Teens, February 2021
In this video interview, Todd Unger, AMA Chief Experience Officer in Chicago asks Patrice Harris, MD, MA, a variety of questions regarding the Pandemics impact on Children and Teens. Dr. Harris argued that although there’s good news regarding vaccines being administered to people and the overall number of COVID-19 cases are decreasing, there have been increasing number of children and adolescents experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression and that there has also been a increased in the number of suicides. She also highlights that the suicides rate increased in far greater numbers for African American male youth. She believes that support services need to be available when needed. She also argues that collaborative care and integrated care is particularly important in helping young people achieve better health outcomes.
In the interview Dr Harris mentioned that suicide rates were far higher among young African American males, I was hoping she would go into more details as to why this is the case and what programs or policies are available or being implemented to help reduce the suicide rate for in young African American males. I agree with Dr. Harris when say said “After we get over the acute phase of the pandemic, I think we will be talking more and thinking more about perhaps post-traumatic stress disorder”. I believe this is true because most the economy has lost many jobs and a lot of those jobs may not even come back and I do believe that even after the pandemic there will still be many people out of work, and this contributes to continued stress and anxiety for families.
Dr.Patrice Harris is an American psychiatrist and the first African-American woman to be elected president of the American Medical Association. I think her information from this interview is very credible and that she has presented strong arguments supporting the claim that the pandemic had a negative impact on Children’s mental health.
I have found that based on research, surveys there is a strong correlation between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health issues in Children and adolescents. There are increased cases of depression and anxiety in young children and an increased in the rate of suicides in that population as well. I have discovered that these could be presented in many different forms such as clinginess, disturbances in sleep and appetite, irritability and impairment in social interactions. The articles above suggested a few ways that we can help lessen these effects. The articles suggested that providing a safe, loving environment is especially important as well as keeping kids away from tv news and other social media news coverage can help lessen their worry and anxiety. The authors also believe that kids with mental health issues should seek the medical attention that they need even though accessing these resources during the pandemic might be difficult at times. Imran, Zeshan and Pervaiz said that” ignoring the immediate and long-term psychology effects of COVID-19 pandemic would be disastrous, especially for children”. They emphasize that parents also need to look after their mental health in order to better support children and adolescents to get through this difficult time.
I think this information is immensely helpful for parents but also for healthcare professionals and government agencies. For Parents, these articles could help them better spot the symptoms that are associated with depression and anxiety and it provides parents with many tools and mechanism that can help support kids who are having difficulties adjusting. For Healthcare professionals this could help them do further research about the issue of mental health and in turn could better support these patients and their families. And Lastly, government agencies could implement policies to help families better access health care services and provide better support for these families. I believe that when school do reopen fully, some kids will need all the mental service support that they can get through their schools – this is another way that local government can help.