By: Ellaha Salehy
On February 26, 2021, Sick Kids hospital released a study showing how COVID-19 has affected youth mental health. The researchers surveyed over 1000 parents of kids and teens from 2 years to 18 years old. The study focused on six different categories of mental health; depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, irritability, attention span, and obsession/compulsion.
They found that 70.2 percent of school children (kids between the ages of 6 to 18), and 66.1 percent of preschool children (kids aged 2 to 5), suffer in at least one of those categories. On the other hand, 19.5 percent of school children and 31.5 percent of preschool children seem to be doing better in at least one of those categories. This shows that the pandemic has had a more significant effect on teens and older kids than younger kids.
Researchers also found that children and youth have experienced similar repercussions, even with different medical and clinical histories. However, some kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD have struggled and suffered more than undiagnosed kids or kids without any neurological conditions. This is caused by the loss of structure and the changed routine. Children with ASD and ADHD have a slightly harder time adjusting to change.
COVID-19 has had and continues to have significant impacts on everyone no matter their age, but it’s hard for younger kids to grasp the idea of the “new world”; matters such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and online school are things that they may not fully understand. However, parents, guardians, and teachers are all doing their best to help this temporary transition.
As things start to get better here in Ontario, we can only hope that the next school year will be as “normal” as it can be. The TDSB released an email on May 20, 2021 stating that they are planning for full in-person school in September of 2021. While schools openings are good for some kids, others are not as content. With less than 1700 cases a day in Ontario, things seem to be taking a positive turn and if all goes well, these statistics will change for the better.
Here are some things you can do if you are personally struggling with mental health: Exercising, meditation/yoga, going out, hobbies, and spending time with friends or family.
Working out is proven to help with depression, anxiety and negative moods or thoughts. Meditation and yoga does wonders for people struggling with anxiety. Going out on walks and getting fresh air on the daily is very important especially during COVID and being cooped up at home. There are plenty of hobbies you can take up if you have the time. It helps to distract your brain and push away negative thoughts for the most part. Lastly, spending time with friends and family, and anyone who makes you happy. This might be more difficult at a time like this but you can go on socially distanced walks, or connect virtually. There are plenty of things you can do to help yourself and push yourself out of a depressive state.
Mental Health Resources provided by FHCI:
Mental Health and Well-Being Resources provided by the TDSB: https://www.tdsb.on.ca/In-Person-Learning/Resources-During-Covid-19
Kids Help Phone: 1 800 668 6868
“New Research Reveals Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Child and Youth Mental Health.” SickKids, SickKids Hospital, 26 Feb. 2021, www.sickkids.ca/en/news/archive/2021/impact-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-child-youth-mental-health/