According to the CDC, in April 2020, children’s mental health-related emergency department visits among all pediatric ER visits increased and remained elevated through October 2020. Comparing visits from 2019, for children ages 5 to 11 and ages 12 to 17, increased approximately 24% and 31% in 2020.
Lockdowns, isolation from family and friends, unemployment and loss of stability have been factors that lead to emotional distress. Emotional distress can cause an adult or child to have a reduced quality of life. When a child’s quality of life is lessened, this can lead to poor grades, angry outbursts, anxiety, depression, violence, and poor family functioning.
The first step to early intervention is normalizing children’s feelings and telling them that we relate and have experienced the same emotions. Supporting children and adolescents is critically important, so they feel less alone and feel that someone empathizes with them. It also decreases anxiety around expressing emotion.Aiding children in identifying the feelings they are having helps them feel the emotion. This, in turn, promotes emotional intelligence. Once the feelings are identified, still empathizing through the process, you can then help brainstorm alternative solutions. Alternative solutions can aid the child in learning how to self-soothe and can reduce unhealthy behaviors. An example would be having a calming corner or healthy coping skills. Once the child calms down, for example, from a tantrum, you can ask them if they can think of a different way to communicate their frustration. If we look past the behavior, we can see an underlying reason for the “Big Feeling” that they did not know how to express.
To cultivate good emotional health in children and adolescents, caregivers must begin at home, but sometimes it can be overwhelming, or not know where to begin. Courage to Connect Therapeutic Center can help guide you, children, and adolescents toward a more positive emotional well-being. Treating children’s or adolescents’ mental health from the beginning can be crucial in reducing problems at home, school, friendships, and it can develop healthy adulthood. We use various techniques such as play therapy, art therapy, behavior therapy, and parental coaching, to name a few. We are open seven days a week and can meet in person or virtually. Our therapists have a passion for working with children and adolescents; please do not hesitate to call us to learn how we can help.