Mental health concerns among youth are up

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 1:36 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – As we enter into another year of the pandemic, mental health concerns among youth are up 30 percent. Thursday morning, Mayo Clinic mental health experts virtually gathered to share tips to help families and kids.

Mayo Clinic pediatricians and behavior specialist say anxiety, depression and eating disorders are up like they’ve never been before.

“Some of the things we think about when we think about good mental health has been compromised due to COVID-19,” Mayo Clinic’s Behavioral Health, Psychiatry & Psychology Janice Schreier said. “We think of the pillars of good mental health to be things like spending time with friends, socializing, being in activities with peers, sports, all of these things that make up a child’s life. Physical activity is very important. Exercise, good sleep, hygiene routine, minimizing screen time. All of those things have been compromised in the last couple years. Significant amount of time spent on screens, this has led to reduced activity and reduced time spent with peers. Routine has gone out the window too.”

While it’s an alarming statistic, Schreier said the uptick is causing conversation to happen. Something she believes should have started years ago.

“The stigma about mental health is dissolving and we’re having more conversation about children and mental health. And this is a good thing. It’s something we should have been doing five years ago. But now, it’s become much more common and comfortable to talk about children and mental health,” Schreier said.

Another positive note, is the growing popularity of telehealth. Schreier said since COVID there’s more opportunity to provide telehealth services in more rural communities, or places where it was harder to reach families or children who were not able to get services.

“If we look at COVID-19 and the pandemic, there was a lot of difficult things that came from it,” Schreier said. “But also, there’s some hope and resiliency and people can grow from that, too.”

Mayo Clinic Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin works as a primary care pediatrician based out of Rochester. She’s seen similar issues in children.

“It’s been really profound what I’ve seen in clinic,” she said.

Ameenuddin said in clinic she too has seen an increase of anxiety and depression, as well as children feeling the mental toll of losing friends or family members to the virus.

“It’s a very real side effect of the pandemic, that we initially didn’t think would impact children as much,” she said.

Ameenuddin recommends taking a multilayered approach to protecting children during this time. She stresses getting vaccinated as soon as they can, to wear masks and keep socially distant.

Copyright 2022 KTTC. All rights reserved.