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mental health

Mental Health Resources

COVID-19 Mental Health Resources

Small Businesses

COVID-19 FAQ

  • During these uncertain times, many have questions. FAQ

Unemployment

Emergency/Crisis Hotlines

If you’re having suicidal ideations, we recommend contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255. Additional crisis and suicide hotlines are available in the category below, Crises and Suicide.

Domestic violence toll-free call: 800-799-7233 (SAFE). Co-quarantined with an abuser? contact @ndvh | National Domestic Violence Hotline: CALL 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 or CHAT at http://thehotline.org

Gender-Based Violence/Domestic Violence coping and support https://www.safehorizon.org/emergency/

NYC Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-621-4673 (HOPE), TTY: 866-604-5350 (if you are hearing impaired), or call 311 and ask for the hotline

Finding A Therapist

Teletherapy – Teletherapy is remote mental health counseling online or over the phone.

* Filter by therapists who offer teletherapy

Emotional Support

Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective – A collective of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists, and activists committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities. 

Support Groups

Family Resources

Relaxation & Coping Resources

Art Therapy

For Mental Health Clinicians

Mental Health Apps/Tools

  • Breathe2Relax

Breathe2Relax is an app for all mobile devices that teaches breathing exercises to help decrease stress response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management. Breathe2Relax can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool, or can be used alongside clinical care directed by a healthcare worker. 

  • CBT iCoach (insomnia)CBT-i Coach is for people who are engaged in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia with a health provider, or who have experienced symptoms of insomnia and would like to improve their sleep habits. The app will guide you through the process of learning about sleep, developing positive sleep routines, and improving your sleep environment. It provides a structured program that teaches strategies proven to improve sleep and help alleviate symptoms of insomnia.
  • Take A BreakTake a Break is a guided meditation app creating a calm and meditative space to enjoy deep relaxation and stress relief. This app is available for all mobile devices.
  • MindfulnessThe Mindfulness App offers an extensive number of meditations with world-renowned teachers, the app also includes a reminder function which can be activated on specific times and places.
  • Mood Tools With the Mind Tools app, you’ll gain access to a wide range of skill-building resources focused on management, leadership and personal excellence. Their stress management techniques teach you how to manage yourself effectively to keep yourself healthy and productive. With each module based on the situation and your personal preference, you can find vital resources on sleep, relaxation, managing performance anxiety, boosting self-confidence, managing anger, and preventing and dealing with burnout.
  • BreatheYou can use the Breathe app to help you relax and focus on your breathing. The Breathe app guides you through a series of deep breaths, and it reminds you to take time to breathe every day. Choose how long you want to breathe, then let the animation and gentle taps help you focus.
  • Calm Calm is an app designed to help users with sleep, relaxation, and reduce stress and anxiety, all with the help of guided meditations, soothing music, and bedtime stories.
  • HeadspaceHeadspace is a guided meditation app designed to teach you the life-changing skills of meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day. Browse the Headspace Library and pick from courses and single meditation sessions to suit your mood and lifestyle. Choose your session length, replay your favourites and learn how to apply mindfulness to your everyday activities.
  • Virtual Hope BoxThe Virtual Hope Box (VHB)  is an app designed for use by patients and their behavioral health providers as an accessory to treatment. The VHB contains simple tools to help patients with coping, relaxation, distraction, and positive thinking. Patients and providers can work together to personalize the VHB content on the patient’s own smartphone according to the patient’s specific needs. The patient can then use the VHB away from the clinic, continuing to add or change content as needed.

National Organizations

AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do. Learn more at: www.afsp.org

AMERICAN HOLISTIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION

American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) is a free, impartial clearinghouse connecting you to self-help wellness resources. Learn more at: www.ahha.org

ASSOCIATION OF BLACK PSYCHOLOGISTS

The Association of Black Psychologists sees its mission and destiny as the liberation of the African Mind, empowerment of the African Character, and enlivenment and illumination of the African Spirit. Lean more at: www.abpsi.org.

BORIS LAWRENCE HENSON FOUNDATION

The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation’s vision is to eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community. They partner with other nonprofit organizations who offer programs that educate, celebrate, and make visible the positive impact of mental health wellness. Learn more at: www.borislhensonfoundation.org.

THE BALANCED MIND FOUNDATION

The Balanced Mind Foundation (formerly the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation) provides resources for parents raising a child, teen or young adult with, or at risk for, a mood disorder. Learn more at www.thebalancedmind.org

AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC FOUNDATION

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the world’s largest psychiatric organization. It is a medical specialty society representing a growing membership of more than 36,000 psychiatrists. Learn more at www.psychiatry.org

BRING CHANGE 2 MIND

Bring Change 2 Mind is a national anti-stigma campaign founded by Glenn Close, The Balanced Mind Foundation, Fountain House, and Garen & Shari Staglin of the International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO), aimed at removing misconceptions about mental illness. Learn more at: bringchange2mind.org.

COLLEGE GUIDE FOR STUDENTS WITH PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITIES

College students with psychiatric disabilities face unique educational challenges. Dedicated mental health counselors and disability coordinators are available on most campuses, and students can typically seek medical attention. Many students, however, do not know how to get help for their problems. To help students get the assistance they need, BestColleges.com has examined instructional strategies, course accommodations, and other campus services designed to serve this population. Learn more.

MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA

Mental Health America is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental and substance use conditions and achieving victory over mental illnesses and addictions through advocacy, education, research and service. Learn more at: www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION

National Mental Health Association (NMHA) NMHA is an advocacy, education, and support organization working to address the needs of people with mental health-related needs and mental illnesses. Learn more at www.nmha.org

START YOUR RECOVERY

StartYourRecovery.org provides helpful information for people who are dealing with substance use issues — and their family members, friends, and co-workers, too. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges faced by those who misuse alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs, or other substances, and SYR aims to break through the clutter to help people at any stage of recovery.  Learn more.

THE STEVE FUND

The Steve Fund is the nation’s only organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color.  The Steve Fund works with colleges and universities, non-profits, researchers, mental health experts, families, and young people to promote programs and strategies that build understanding and assistance for the mental and emotional health of the nation’s young people of color. Learn more at www.stevefund.org.

THERAVIVE

Theravive is a network of licensed therapists and psychologists committed to helping people receive the best mental health care available.  Through building bridges with others, we continually strive to lower mental health stigma.  Learn more. 

School’s Out. Parental Burnout Isn’t Going Away

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

The majority of parents “have no idea how they are going to keep their child occupied all summer.”

Credit…Kati Szilagyi
Jessica Grose

By Jessica Grose | June 23, 2020 Updated 1:16 p.m. ET

Here in New York, there are three days left in the school year. While my family limps toward the finish line — the children are taking their Zoom classes flopped on the couch, and my husband and I are exhausted by the daily meltdowns over “realistic fiction writing” and Popsicle-stick boats that won’t float — we are even more overwhelmed by what’s to come: A summer without regular professional child care or camp to occupy our 7- and 3-year-olds, while we continue to work full time.

My husband and I moved in with my parents in May, so we would have some kind of child care support. But after a month of part-time babysitting, my parents, who are in their 70s, are starting to burn out, too. While I know that we’re lucky and privileged to still have jobs, and to have healthy parents with space for us in their home, I try not to think more than a week ahead. Otherwise, I ruminate on the distinct possibility that we will continue remote learning in the fall, and then begin to despair at how unsustainable our arrangement is for the long run.

My colleague Farhad Manjoo wrote a piece about how parents were burning out in April.

person walking holding brown leather bag

Now it’s June. And the stress and exhaustion are not going away. Finding summer child-care coverage has always been difficult and expensive, making it out of reach for many families. But this summer, that juggle feels impossible.

As states open up and more and more parents are called back to work, many are finding that their day care centers are still closed and may be at risk of never reopening. Even when child care is available, many parents are anxious about sending their children back into an environment where they are potentially at risk of contracting coronavirus. Millions of parents are losing their jobs either temporarily or permanently. Lower-income, black and Hispanic parents have been disproportionally affected by job loss, and they are anxious about meeting their children’s basic needs.

A survey called “Stress in the Time of Covid-19,” conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association from April 24 to May 4, found that 46 percent of parents with children under 18 said their stress level was high, compared with 28 percent of adults without children.

The A.P.A. did a second survey from May 21 to June 3 that found while 69 percent of parents were looking forward to the school year being over, 60 percent said they were struggling to keep their children busy, and 60 percent said they “they have no idea how they are going to keep their child occupied all summer.”

nursery room interior view

At some point, we are going to have to actually talk about childcare. Just you know – folks are still working from home with their kids and it’s still impossible.

Robin G. Nelson, an associate professor of anthropology at Santa Clara University and the mom of an 8-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, is burned out both personally and professionally.

“The days are packed and incredibly monotonous, and I am not productive,” she said. Her husband is also a professor, and she has child care help two days a week from her mother-in-law. Their schedules are fairly flexible — in general, he watches the kids in the morning while she works, then they swap after lunch. But it leaves them with a truncated work day in a house with two noisy kids, and the stressors accrue over time.

When the pandemic began, Dr. Nelson was not concerned about its impact on her own children’s mental health, but as it drags on, she worries about her 8-year-old especially. “It’s hard keeping him happy, motivated, and OK since school ended,” she said, because he no longer gets to see his friends and teachers (even virtually) on a regular basis.

Dr. Nelson, who I have known for more than a decade, studies child development and child health outcomes. “People are always raised by a network of adults and support systems,” including extended family, teachers, coaches and community members, she said. “That network of adults and caretakers is essential for every kid, everywhere.”

Now that network has become even more frayed for many families since school ended. Dr. Nelson worries that the most vulnerable parents are already suffering from this lack of social support, since many low-income children have not been able to access distance learning, so have not seen their teachers, caregivers and friends since March.

It’s worth noting that “parental burnout” is a distinct psychological phenomenon that is separate from parents feeling generally stressed and exhausted. To get a diagnosis of parental burnout, you need the following four symptoms: You feel so exhausted you can’t get out of bed in the morning, you become emotionally detached from your children, you take no pleasure or joy in parenting, and it is a marked change in behavior for you.

grayscale photo of woman right hand on glass

Dr. Moïra Mikolajczak, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain, surveyed 1,300 French-speaking parents in Belgium about burnout during the pandemic, and said that parents who tended to have more symptoms of burnout were confined with very small children or teenagers, or had children with special needs.

In the United States, black parents are facing additional stressors this summer because of racial discrimination. According to the A.P.A study, 55 percent of black Americans cited discrimination as a source of stress in June, up from 42 percent in May.

Dr. Nelson said that the stress on her as a black mom in the wake of George Floyd’s death has been twofold: She has had to witness her son’s fear for his own safety, and, as an underrepresented minority in her field, she’s also been tasked with doing extra work on behalf of diversity and inclusion efforts professionally.

“It’s always too much, but it feels extra heavy with Covid, because we know black and brown people are dying of Covid,” she said. “If you’re going through a moment where your group is being targeted explicitly in public, and you have any access at all to move the needle, it doesn’t feel responsible to opt out.”

While Dr. Nelson is mindful of her own mental health, “I don’t feel like I’m in the best place to make the change I want to make because I’m already worn thin,” she said.

Inger Burnett-Zeigler, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, said that the stresses placed on black parents are unique and can feel overwhelming. She advised that all parents, but in particular black parents, can “take a critical eye at the multiple demands being placed on you at the moment. Consider which of those are serving you and your family, and which demands you can step away from.”

grayscale photo of 3 men and 2 women smiling

If your kids are not at camp or day care, all of the experts I spoke to said that having some kind of structure to the day is essential, but that structure doesn’t need to feel confining. Nina Essel, a licensed social worker and parent coach based in New Jersey, said that schedules work best when the whole family has similar expectations.

Essel suggested sitting down together and dividing activities into three categories: Nonnegotiables; things you want to see happen; and things you would like to see happen. Though all families have different priorities, in my house a nonnegotiable is that the kids go outside for at least an hour every day, weather permitting. Something I want to see happen is my kids doing something vaguely academic a couple of times a week. Something I’d like to see happen is that my kids make their own lunches. If you have older kids, you can include them in this decision-making, and break out the sticky notes to write down different activities and rearrange them according to family priorities.

Pooja Lakshmin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said that “forcing your brain to think about some of the positives, no matter how small they are,” can help ameliorate burnout. A way to feel more effective is to keep a journal where every night you write down one thing you did well as a parent.

The A.P.A. data suggest that American parents aren’t all miserable, all the time. Eighty-two percent of parents surveyed said they were grateful for the extra time with their kids during the shutdown. Dr. Mikolajczak’s survey of Belgian parents showed that for 30 percent of fathers and 36 percent of mothers stress and exhaustion actually decreased, as parents got to spend more quality time with their children without the pressure of a packed schedule. With pride in her voice, Dr. Nelson described her son doing anthropological digs, clearly finding joy in his explorations. “He’s in the backyard constantly, finding an artifact every day — ‘I think this is bone, this is glass.’”

Dr. Lakshmin said that parents in general, but mothers, especially, should not just consider the risks of the coronavirus, but also the risks to their mental health when it comes to making decisions about finding child care. “When women think about this, we’re so conditioned to put ourselves second and to only think about the risks involved with the virus,” she said. “You really have to actively force yourself to think about, what are the risks for myself from a mental health standpoint? What are the risks to my values?” It’s never an easy calculus.

The camp that Dr. Nelson’s children usually go to is currently open, though she and her husband don’t feel comfortable sending them just yet. They’re waiting to see how the camp handles its first few weeks — whether it is being cleaned rigorously, and whether it is keeping its campers and counselors safe.

“If you send them, you understand you’re putting your family and yourself and the teachers at higher risk,” she said. “Still, I don’t know how we make it through the summer without anything.”

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

Paula M Naranjo

IG: Paulamarienaranjo

FB: MarieNaranjo

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Mental illness and the body of Christ…

Latrea Wyche / Contributing Writer

One in four Americans suffers from a form of mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many look to their church for spiritual guidance during these times of distress. But they are unlikely to find much help on Sunday mornings. As believers of Christ some of us (notice I said some of us) are led to believe that struggling with a mental illness is somehow attached to or related to sin. We must have done something or allowed ourselves to entertain unhealthy spirits that have attached themselves to our mind. This type thinking does more harm than good, especially to a person who battles with mental illness on a day to day basis, this type of thinking blames the victim makes, them feel like their illness is their fault. Do not get me wrong, can we get ourselves tangled up in some things where we allow unhealthy spirits to enter our minds, yes that can happen but is that always the case: no. So many times, as Christians we are so quick to look for a cause or someone or something to blame when people around us are dealing with certain issues. Instead of stepping in and praying for our brothers and sisters instead we choose to judge them.
Mental illness is not just something that we can just throw oil on or cast out and expect it to just magically go away. This is an everyday battle, that many within the body of Christ do not really seem to understand. Therefore, it hard to get assistance from the church when it comes to mental illness because they do not understand it, therefore the only advice they can give is pray. Now please believe me I know people can be healed from any sickness or illness and prayer does change things I am living proof of that, but it going to take an all hands-on deck approach. Mental illness must be attacked from both a spiritual and natural perspective, as it in Heaven so it is in on Earth, the Bible tells us faith without works is dead meaning we can pray and have all the faith in the world but nothing going happen until we put some work behind it. For some work could mean going to see a therapist, for others work could mean being on some medication. Whatever work is for that person.

This is a conversation the Church needs to have. Suicide may be one of the most complex and demanding topics of all. Over the past few years, the discussion has felt forced, especially when the event is connected to high-profile suicides of prominent Christian leaders or their family members and close associates. While the circumstances in these situations are varied, the question of mental health always comes up; and when we talk about mental illness and suicide, it immediately creates a unique challenge for believers. The question is “Why?” Why is it uniquely challenging for us to address issues often associated with mental illness?

Latrea Wyche

IG: CoachLatrea79

Facebook: Latrea Wyche

“Disability Meets Depression”

Latrea Wyche/ Contributing Writer

Depression is not a topic you hear much about within the disability community.  But I guess when I  really think about it, I could see how they could be connected.  Depression is caused by a number of different factors, such as low self esteem lost of direction, a feeling of not belonging  just to name a few.  All of these things can also be directly connected to having a disability. In some cases it may not be the disability itself that causes the depression, it could be the effects of having a disability that may cause the depression.
Being disabled can cause one to have to face many ups and downs obstacles, hurdles, uphill battles, and valley experiences throughout our lives, the upside to this is all of this is God has used all of these experiences to shape and continues to shape who He has created us to be. But sometimes these experiences can also play on our emotions and self-esteem which makes life a little difficult deal with which can cause depression to set in if we are not careful. Depression is defined as a mental disorder characterized by being depressed, low, or “blue” mood that lasts more than a few days. Depressed people often lose interest in activities they formerly found pleasant, feel hopeless and sad, and suffer from low self-esteem.  Depression and disability often times goes hand and hand, depending upon the support system that a individual may have. But then the question become why does disability lead to depression:

Why does disability lead to depression?? 

No life direction or purpose – Many individuals who are disabled often feel as though because they are disabled they have no purpose which cases them to feel lost and out of place.  Then there is the individual who become disabled later in life, they have work hard to achieve a certain career goal. Acquiring a disability that no longer allows you to no longer work at that job hat you have been at for years, has a significant impact on your direction in life and may also impact your sense of purpose. For example, an airline pilot whose vision becomes seriously impaired is no longer able to fly. Such a devastating loss can easily open the door for depression.

The painful loss of a sense of purpose affects many disabled individuals who were formerly the primary breadwinner in the home. When you’re no longer able to provide for your family, it’s not unusual to develop the lingering helplessness or frustration that leads to depression. Feelings of worthlessness, another common symptom of depression, can begin to take a firm grip. This is seen commonly in a lot of disabled vets.

Decrease in self-esteem – Being disabled affects how you perceive and feel about yourself, as well as your place in society. A study of individuals with traumatic brain injury revealed they had lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of depression than healthy individuals. Some disabled individuals lack confidence in their ability to control their body and manage their life adequately. The loss of autonomy can take a severe toll on self-esteem.

Sadness, anger or frustration – A disability can sometime prevent you from having you dream job or your dream career, but it isn’t always serious enough to keep you out of the workforce entirely. Feeling forced to take a job that isn’t as challenging, fulfilling, prestigious or well-paying can elicit negative feelings such as sadness, anger, frustration or resentment. 

Struggle of living with a disability – Quality of life often decreases after a significant injury or illness, especially when it limits the ability to perform normal daily activities. A serious brain injury, for instance, requires a person to relearn any number of tasks, from how to speak to how to button a shirt. In some cases, he or she simply isn’t able to relearn important functions. Likewise, a disability such as vision loss completely changes how someone lives. A newly blind person must learn how to navigate a dark world, losing at least some independence in the process.

Feeling bored – Some disabilities leave a person housebound, with few opportunities to interact with others. You may find yourself at home alone all day while your spouse is at work or confined to an assisted living center where community activities don’t match your interests. Boredom fosters negative emotions, including loneliness and frustration, which can trigger symptoms of depression.

Disability definitely raises depression risk; however, depression can also make the disability worse. For example, depression can make it more difficult for you to take proper care of your health. You are more likely to miss important appointments, such as a doctor visit or physical therapy. You may neglect to take your medications as directed. The result is a cycle in which the injury or illness triggers depression, which, in turn, makes the disabling condition worse.

Latrea Wyche
IG: CoachLatrea79
Facebook: Latrea Wyche

Mental Health….are we still having the conversation?

Latrea Wyche Contributing Writer


Latrea Wyche

iG: CoachLatrea79

Facebook: Latrea Wyche

Experts offer advice to help parents ‘manage the meltdowns’ during time at home with kids

by Ashley Gooden | Monday, May 18th 2020

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) — Since school has been out, many children have started to grow anxious and irritable with having to stay at home so much. ABC 33/40 is getting help from experts to help manage the meltdowns.

Kiara Harris is the parent of a 5 year-old, and as you can imagine, her son, Noah, is getting a little antsy staying at home.

“We’re accustomed to going to jump parks or to indoor playgrounds and he doesn’t quite understand why he can’t go outside and play on the playground and he’s made a few comments like he misses school or he wants to have fun this weekend. So, it’s been really odd for both of us because he can’t get out the energy he’s accustomed to getting out,” says Harris.

Things are a little odd for most parents right now… Many kids are more irritable, and it’s not their fault.

“I feel bad that there isn’t that much we can do,” says Harris.

Doctors say there are a couple of things parents can do while at home like noticing if the irritability is coming from them or the child, and also realizing changes in behavior that are out of the ordinary.

“For most children what you’re going to be noticing is a normal reaction to the circumstances, basic support, finding ways to help them cope, creating activities, help them find ways to creatively stay in touch with their friends,” says Dr. Dan Marullo, a psychologist at Children’s of Alabama.

Marullo says tummy aches, headaches, and other aches and pains can be a sign of emotional distress.

Dr. Amin Gilani, a psychiatrist associated with Brookwood Baptist Medical Center says now more than ever your children are watching you to see how they should behave.

“There will be long term consequences of the isolation, social distancing, the whole pandemic thing, and parents are consuming all the news from all of the sources and the amount of stress and amount of reaction parents are going through will determine how badly their kids will be effected,” says Gilani.

Gilani also recommends paying attention to how much your child is online, he says there should be a maximum of 4 hours spent in front of a screen.

He mentions there could be much difficulty for children, when it comes to heading back to school.

“So it’s going to be an extreme level of emotion. Some kids will be too happy and some will be too scared and that is not a good sign. I would be very careful and talk to your kids, be like hey I know we had a long break, we didn’t go outside, but in the august, you may have to go back to school,” says Gilani.

If you’d like an additional resource to help walk you through how to cope with difficulties you may be facing at home with your children, you can call Children’s of Alabama’s free confidential phone response center that links adult callers to mental health resources for children and teens.

That number is 205-638-PIRC (7472).

Keep up with children’s health during pandemic. Especially now, pediatricians can help.

With schools closed, a doctor may now be the only person outside a household with eyes on a child. Don’t skip well-child appointments and vaccines.

Dr. Sara “Sally” Goza and Dr. Patrice HarrisOpinion Contributors

COVID-19 has drastically changed how we live our lives and brought much of the world to a standstill. It’s a scary time for parents who worry about becoming ill or caring for loved ones who have contracted the virus, as well as for the many Americans whose ability to support their families is becoming uncertain. With all of the turmoil, it’s easy to forget how this is affecting our children. 

Thankfully, for the most part, children seem to be spared from the most extreme and dangerous effects of the coronavirus. But they are still feeling the pain of the pandemic in a big way, from the preschooler who doesn’t understand why she can’t hug her grandparents or see her teachers to the teen whose big life moments like graduation and final year-end competitions have suddenly been snatched away. The toll and timeline for these impacts is unknown. 

Don’t skip well-child check-ups

The disruption in routine can also lead to behavior changes. For younger children, that can mean less sleep, more tantrums, and bed-wetting. For older children, it can manifest in feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness. With studies showing the mental health of U.S. teens and young adults dramatically declining over the past decade, it’s important that we continue to check in with our children to talk about how they’re doing and what they’re experiencing.

With children and adolescents now home from child care and schools, the only person outside the household who has eyes on them may be their doctor. That is why well-child visits must continue for all children and youth, even in areas where the visit must be done through telemedicine. 

Outside a hospital in New York City on April 23, 2020.

Well-child visits are where we examine children, discuss concerns with families and talk to adolescents about mental health, sexuality, and high-risk behaviors like vaping and drugs. Pediatricians are trained to screen for signs of distress of all kinds during these visits, from expected stress to serious family distress and even suicidal thoughts.

Especially during such an uncertain and stressful time for children, we use these visits to check in on their mental health, too.

These exams are so important to keep kids on track, which is why we urge parents everywhere to first reach out to your child’s pediatrician. Come for your scheduled appointments, in person, by phone, or on a computer. Call us when your child has an ear infection or trouble breathing, or may have broken a bone or need stitches. Call when you have a mental health concern or notice a change in your child’s behavior.

Keep up with vaccines

And, perhaps most important, make sure your child continues to get vaccines on time. Despite the very real concerns of COVID-19, it’s especially important for children to continue to receive the essential health services their scheduled well-visits provide. Disrupting immunization schedules, even for brief periods, can lead to outbreaks of infections like measles or whooping cough that can be even more threatening to a child’s health. 

Balancing the health care needs of our young patients with the need to practice physical distancing requires a watchful eye, a measured approach, and teamwork between parent and pediatrician. We will continue our work to protect all children, especially those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of coronavirus — those on Medicaid with complex health care needs and from low-income families, and children from under-resourced and minority communities, particularly African Americans, who are experiencing a disproportionate burden of illness and fatalities.

Pediatricians’ message to parents is clear: We are open for business, and we are here for you and your children now more than ever. While federal and state government officials work to ensure our health care system can continue to function throughout the pandemic, we urge them to recognize and support the doctors at its epicenter.

At a moment when our nation’s eyes are on the spread of the virus, our eyes are on the children.

Dr. Sara “Sally” Goza is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Patrice Harris is president of the American Medical Association. Follow them on Twitter: @SallyGoza and @PatirceHarrisMD

Have a story you want to share ? Feel free to email me @ throughlovewelearn@gmail.com .

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