UW Health offers tips to caregivers as anxiety in children continues to rise

Published: Feb. 26, 2022 at 4:30 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Anxiety and depression in children are on rise in the United States. UW Health officials believe this in large part due to the toll the pandemic has had on youth.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association, emergency room visits and suicide attempts have rose in the past two years. The rise was serious enough for them and the American Academy of Pediatrics to declare a national emergency concerning children’s mental health.

UW Health Kids also noted that roughly 1 out of 500 children in the U.S. were orphaned due to Covid-19, according to the National Institutes of Health. This statistic is even higher for children of color.

Pediatrician at UW Health Kids and associate professor of pediatrics at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Dr. Mala Mathur, believes that this anxiety manifests in kids as a result of fear that them or a loved one could contract Covid-19. Additionally, she feels that the cancellation of regular activities is also contributing to the problem.

“It altered or eliminated milestone celebrations like birthdays, graduations, and prom, resulting in a sense of loss or grief for many children,” she said when referencing the pandemic. “That is a lot for kids to handle.”

Tips for parents and caregivers per the the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Spend one-on-one time with children. Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day that is interrupted and without screens. Every little bit helps with children’s well-being.
  • Help with fear management. Communicate with children and ask them how they are feeling. Caregivers could also try deep breathing and mindfulness.
  • Create a healthy lifestyle. Spending time outside or getting exercise can also boost mental health. The same is true with creating healthy eating habits and making sure children get a good amount of sleep.
  • Know when to get help. - . Always get professional help when needed. You can always reach out to a child psychologist or set up an appointment with a councilor. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is as follows: 1-800-273-8255.

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