Health experts say pandemic could be taking a mental & emotional toll on children

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The pandemic has been a stressful time for many of us and experts say it may be taking a mental and emotional toll on our children.

“Children will know based on what they see on the news and how they see you react as to whether or not this is really serious and something to be concerned about,” said Dr. Altha Stewart with UTHSC Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth.

This is National Children’s Mental Health Week and May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

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Health experts say communication is the key and we have to remember that kids pick up on what we say and how we say it.

They’re encouraging parents to have more conversations with their kids about this pandemic and the uncertainty that comes with it.

Dr. Stewart said those are just some of the things kids may be dealing with during the pandemic.

She told FOX13 oftentimes parents want to shield their kids from the bad stuff going on in the world but she said this is a time to be honest with your kids about what’s happening

“We have to share with them real information that we have as best we can, we have to stop the watching of the 24-hour news cycle and we have to remind them while it’s bad now, the expectation is that we’re going to get through this,” Stewart said.

Stewart told FOX13 calls to crisis centers are up, and some kids may have increased anxiety as their parents go back to work with business reopening.

“Kids are watching their parents go out into an environment that they’ve heard on tv now for six to seven weeks is not safe that you can’t be around people, you can’t be around things, you could bring this back to your house and it’ll kill people. I mean that’s in the mind of a child. How it sounds and maybe how it feels,” Stewart said.

That’s why she said it’s important for parents to talk with their kids often and work with them to find healthy outlets to relieve their stress.

“Kids – their lives have been disrupted, it’s the responsibility of the adults to help them frame this in ways they can understand to help them creatively brainstorm about things they can do instead of what their plans were.” Said Stewart.

Parents don’t have to do this alone.

Dr. Stewart said the school district created a hotline with resources and information for parents

And the Youth Advocacy Center at the UT Health Science Center also offers virtual telehealth calls.

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