Mental health professionals and doctors around the globe are warning that after more than a year of stress, isolation, grief, and fear, students will not simply spring back into school. Young people everywhere from the Netherlands to Peru to the United States are reporting more anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms.
In addition to withdrawal, increased moodiness and volatility, parents are reporting terrifying instances of self-harm, or young children expressing thoughts of suicide, which have led to a nationwide surge in hospital visits for children under 18.
The CDC reported that between April and October 2020, the proportion of emergency department visits for kids ages 5 to 11 was up 24% from the same period in 2019, the proportion of visits for 12-17 year-olds increased by 31%. Experts say the stressors of the pandemic have added to the already mounting crisis of anxiety-related disorders in young people, some as young as eight years old.
As a result, demand for the Mental Health First Aid courses is soaring among teachers, counselors, coaches – people who interact with kids, said Judith Allen, a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.
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