Starting a new school year can lead to anxiety in children during normal times, however going back to school in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic brings new social-emotional and behavioral challenges. Depending on where you live, school may be in-person, online, or a hybrid of the two, any of which may impact a child’s emotional well-being.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, a higher number of children and adolescents were exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and depression one month into quarantine, and the number of youths experiencing social-emotional and behavioral concerns is expected to double or triple during this pandemic.
Students who have been in quarantine for months may experience the emotional side-effects of isolation and lack of socialization, lack of structure, negative interactions with others in the household, the trauma of a seriously ill family member, or fear of getting sick or losing a loved one to COVID-19. It is important to remember that behind emotional outbursts and other negative behaviors are unmet needs, such as safety, structure, nurturing, and relief from emotional or physical pain.
Parents and caregivers should watch for signs anxiety and depression, such as difficulty sleeping, eating disturbances, stomach aches or headaches, aggressiveness, irritability, poor concentration, or withdrawal from friends and activities.
When a child is showing any of these signs, and emotional outbreaks are frequent and causing a crisis at home or at school, it is time to get help from a licensed mental health professional. Most outpatient and inpatient programs provide teletherapy for individual and family therapy programs.
Red River Youth Academy in Norman, Okla., offers residential behavioral health treatment for boys 7-17 and girls 12-17 in a secure, structured environment. School is provided onsite. Programs focus on children and adolescents experiencing severe aggression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and homicidal ideation. For a free phone screening, call 405-701-8530 ext. 231. An online screening form is also available.