Survey details pandemic’s impact on child mental health
Children’s mental health has been an ongoing concern since the onset of the pandemic. As isolation, anxiety, and stress continue to take their toll on the nation, children have also been deeply affected. A study published by The JED Foundation provided insight on child wellbeing in the past year, revealing that six in 10 parents say their child has experienced emotional or mental challenges in the past month. The sample included more than 2,000 parents ages 18 or older, and the survey was conducted from Sept.-Oct. 2020. Along with that, 899 teens ages 13-18 from these same households also completed a separate section of the survey.
Anxiety, social isolation, and trouble concentrating were three of the main issues cited by the parents surveyed. Children who experienced these challenges were more likely to have had a friend or family member contract COVID-19, or have a parent lose a job or take a pay cut as a result of the pandemic. In addition, half of teens reported that they have experienced mental health challenges in the past month.
Parents were also asked whether their child’s mental health has been better, worse, or the same as before the pandemic, with 31 percent stating their child’s mental health has worsened. More than half of parents surveyed felt their child’s mental health was the same, and 16 percent stated that it had actually improved. While these trends point to a continued need to prioritize mental health in classrooms, the report emphasized that they also reveal the resilience of children throughout the pandemic.
With this knowledge comes a greater responsibility for educators, policymakers, and school leaders to consistently work towards improved mental health assessments and action. The JED Foundation hopes to help with that work, as they recently partnered with more than a dozen schools to implement a suicide prevention initiative that aims to identify students at risk and provide mental health care to those who need it.
Parents also recognize the necessity of these initiatives. The main efforts they felt schools should prioritize in addressing student mental health this upcoming year included helping students develop fundamental life and social-emotional skills, as well as identifying students at risk for mental/emotional health issues. As children begin to return to the classroom, their mental health must be prioritized. This crisis is not the only one students will face in a lifetime, and as Colorado children and families recover from the impacts of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to ensure access to the support and services they need to thrive.