Imagine, from the point of view of a 10-year-old, their school has been shut down as something very bad is circulating in the very air we breathe. The parents are constantly after the kids to regularly wash their hands, wear a mask, not go out to play, and avoid personal interaction with friends. In this scenario, the world has has become unfamiliar and can have a deep, long-lasting effect on the psyche of school-going children.
Reasons Behind Poor Mental Health in School Children
There are many reasons for poor mental health in school children. Chiefly, loss of children’s earlier daily routine, minimal-to-no contact with friends and schoolmates, and an environment of constant uncertainty – these are reasons behind the high incidence of depression and anxiety, panic attacks, disengagement, and increased substance abuse incidences among school-aged kids.
The current pandemic has significantly raised stress levels of school children. With only partial development of their psyches, the children, particularly the younger ones, cannot fully comprehend everything related to COVID.
This leads to many unanswered questions. Children seem more confused now than ever. This state of mind generates anxiety. In cases where parents face significant financial loss or if the domestic environment is hostile, the children can suffer from depression too. In the adolescent years, they might turn to substance abuse.
JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) Pediatrics carried out a detailed analysis of 29 studies involving 80,000+ children and young adults globally. It revealed the worldwide estimate of depression and anxiety among kids at 25.2% and 20.5%, respectively. This rate is nearly double when compared to pre-COVID rates of depression and anxiety. Undoubtedly, COVID has been a very significant catalyst in the worsening of mental health in school-going kids.
The reasons behind this worsening chiefly extends to social isolation. For instance, not meeting friends, an environment of uncertainty and panic, and the trickle-down effect of parental stress. The absence of the usual school environment and youngsters not achieving milestones (academic and social) are factors leading to poor self-esteem and negativity in youngsters.
Other Markers of Mental Health Issues
Substance abuse (smoking, drinking, using recreational drugs) during childhood and adolescence has always been a major health concern in the United States. This is all the more worrisome as it is undertreated. The COVID environment has only added to the prevalence of substance abuse in youngsters.
A few apparent reasons add to a victim of substance abuse. For instance, it includes stress, peer pressure, boredom, and being cut off socially. Increased conflict at home only worsens this.
There is another slightly less touched-upon disorder – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Confusion and inability to focus on tasks lead to children becoming hyperactive, more so the younger ones. School kids who have ADHD presented with worsening symptoms and mood fluctuation along with acute stress during COVID. These times have led to a rise in ADHD cases too.
Needless to say, the lack of adequate and optimal mental health in children of school-going age is something we can’t overlook anymore. This is a topic that needs urgent addressing. Parents, teachers, and the overall social milieu have to deal with these problems cohesively and sensitively.
New England Medical Billing supports schools in providing reimbursement for services offered through school-based Medicaid billing. The NEMB team also offers specialty medical clinic billing for mental health services offered through private independent practices.