School counselors explain how to check in on your kids’ mental health

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 9:00 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Health organizations are concerned about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the nation’s youth.

The U.S. Surgeon General said the uncertainty and fear caused by the pandemic are greatly impacting younger generations. He said the age groups of concern are often embarrassed by mental health issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics declared mental health issues a national emergency.

The concern is that many kids are fighting battles beyond the classroom, like Maria Bright’s son.

“He’s had some people bullying him just because that’s all he talks to right now, because of COVID he was home for a year, that’s all he did,” Bright said.

Bright said the majority of her son’s social life is fueled by online games.

When adding social computer time with virtual school, counselors say the pandemic drastically increased total screen time.

“Students just have to face things in a very different way because things that they used to be safe from are constantly in their face,” Betsy McCandless, Pamlico County high school counselor said.

On top of that, mask mandates, shifting schedules, and more have sparked worries and fear.

“For some of our students, that creates anxiety. For some of our students, that creates depression,” Valeria Nasser, Craven County Schools military liaison counselor said.

Counselors say if you notice a difference in a loved one, it should prompt you to start a conversation.

“Why have they suddenly checked out?” McCandless wonders. “Why have they stopped caring about something they really loved in the past?”

McCandless explained that figuring out a good and safe place to talk can go a long way.

Nasser said dinner time, taking a walk, or 15 minutes before bed can be good times for parents or guardians to have those types of conversations with their children.

She also recommends asking kids about specific things they are interested in to get them talking.

If parents do notice any big changes and want to seek help, Nasser said they can start with a school counselor or community counseling.

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