Practical ways to detect and reduce anxiety for kids, and direct families to helpful resources.
Mental health struggles were already at an all-time high in 2019. But since the onset of the COVID pandemic, those numbers have skyrocketed—particularly among kids.
For example, according to Mental Health America data:
- A growing percentage of youth in the U.S. live with major depression.
- Over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe depression, and multiracial youth are at the greatest risk.
- Over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.
How can we help those who are struggling? What about those closest to us? Keep reading for some very practical advice.
COMMON SIGNS OF DEPRESSION & ANXIETY IN CHILDREN
Do you know the signs of depression and anxiety in kids of different ages? Both can look like crabbiness, fatigue, or extreme excitement. But whose kids aren’t all of these things at one point or another?
As explained in this article published by the University of New Hampshire, the difference is that “we all get these feelings every now and then. But if these feelings are persistent, it could suggest anxiety or depression, which are often related, especially among children.”
According to the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, one of our partners, here are the signs to look for when considering whether or not the child in your life could benefit from mental health services:
- Behavioral changes, such as mood swings, aggression, temper tantrums, and crying spells
- Headaches and stomach aches
- Constant worrying or negative thoughts
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty sleeping
- Struggling with or refusing to go to school
- Social withdrawal and isolation
If the youth in your life is exhibiting any of these signs persistently, please contact one of the certified agencies listed on our Greater Newark Holiday Fund website, like Mental Health Association in New Jersey, FamilyConnections, Nutley Family Service Bureau, or Catholic Charities of Newark. They are prepared to give you the direction needed.
In the meantime, Nutley Family Service Bureau has shared some practical advice for helping to reduce the anxiety of kids in your life. Here are some wise points shared in the article How You Can Help Kids Overcome a Two-Year Buildup of Covid Anxiety.
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3 Practical Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Kids
1. Parents: Practice Positive Habits
The most crucial thing parents and other adults can do to reduce children’s worry is to improve their anxiety management. Children’s environments have a big influence on them. They can sense the emotions of the adults in their immediate vicinity.
2. Keep Routines
Establish routines and structure at home to create a sense of normalcy. For example, institute or keep routines that include:
- Keeping busy and exercising regularly each day
- Ensuring that you get enough sleep
- Consuming balanced meals daily
- Setting sensible objectives
- Trying to be optimistic
- Preparing for problems, but not dwelling on issues that are beyond your control
- Maintaining contact with friends and relatives
- Setting aside time for enjoyable activities
By managing what is under your control, routines produce a predictable sense of safety.
3. Find Ways to Connect
Even while technology is a part of our lives and may keep kids in touch with peers, setting screen time limits can be beneficial. Parents may stop their children from becoming engrossed in what they see on social media and other platforms by setting a reasonable time limit for screen use. For instance, worry frequently arises from comparing oneself to what others do and how they appear.
Instead, find opportunities for your family to come together. Play games, go outside, or watch a movie with your friends.
You might be saying, “But the kids always fight, or the family disagrees on which activity to pursue!” Our advice is: do it anyway. There will naturally be arguments and confrontations during these interactions, but it’s crucial to be mindful of your language, tone, and volume. Children should learn that disagreements can be handled amicably and respectfully.Did you know that hanging out together as a family is key to reducing anxiety and depression in children? Yes, togetherness can bring tension and disagreements, but this is OK! Handled respectfully, this is a good lesson for kids to learn,… Click To Tweet
EXPERIENCE HELP AND HEALING FROM MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES
We hope that you seek out help for yourself or those in your life who are struggling with signs of depression or anxiety, no matter their age or situation.
At the Holiday Fund, we are proud to have seasoned partners we can point you to so you can begin your healing journey. Contact them and begin your journey to healing.