With so many children remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, parents and health professionals in New England are sounding the alarm about depression and anxiety.
“I think we have another public health emergency well on its way with the children,” mother Antonia Foster said.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts, mother said she’s talking about the dire state of mental health issues in children as the pandemic stretches on and kids become increasingly isolated.
With no end in sight to remote learning, Foster said she is desperately concerned about depression and anxiety in her 14-year-old son Liam.
“He sits in his room and he does his schoolwork and then he has to do homework and then it’s dark out,” laments Foster. “And where are we going to go indoors?”
Foster says her 11-year-old son Felix is on an Individualized Education Plan and has trouble focusing on virtual learning all day.
“I have to basically serve as his one-to-one aid here at the house,” Foster said.
And that is causing her mental health to suffering as well, she said.
“I am pulled in like four different directions at any given time and I never have a chance to recover,” Foster said.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Danielle Roseke, the executive director of Newport Academy in Connecticut, says the best thing parents can do right now is to validate the feelings their children are experiencing by openly talking about them.
“Many kids may not have the voice to speak to the struggles that they’re having but it doesn’t mean that they’re not there, and it doesn;t mean that they’re not feeling the pressures of the world around them,” Roseke said.
Roeske suggests taking a break from computers and the remote learning setting and finding small ways as a family to connect and find joy this holiday season, as well as focusing on the fact that there is an end in sight now that vaccines have arrived.
With fall upon us, you may want to set up your child for success with a designated home learning space as they prepare for more remote learning.