Texas physicians created a new tool to help parents support their children whose behavioral health is suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s upheaval.
The Texas Medical Association’s School Reopening Workgroup, the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS), and members of TMA’s Committee on Behavioral Health produced “Your Child’s Feelings Matter,” a resource in English and Spanish to help parents recognize and support their children’s reactions to school disruptions and other changes the pandemic has forced upon their young lives.
“School closures, virtual learning, change in routine, and social isolation have taken a physical and mental toll on [children’s] emotional wellbeing,” the flyer reads.
As a result of all these new stressors, many children’s behavioral health is suffering, says Tyler pediatrician Valerie Smith, MD, chair of the TMA School Reopening Workgroup. She is also co-chair of TMA’s Subcommittee on Behavioral Health and a member of the TPS Executive Board.
“We are seeing more children exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression under these additional strains, such as irritability, isolating, or even aggression,” Dr. Smith said.
TPS President Seth D. Kaplan, MD, a Frisco pediatrician added that the guide can help parents and families “recognize all of the signs that there may be trouble while also reviewing the many resources they have available to them to help.”
The guide recommends parents recognize signs of stress in children, and if necessary, seek help from the child’s physician, counselors, or even clergy.
The flyer provides additional resources for help with anxiety from racism or sexual orientation issues.
“Supporting children when they are struggling and helping them develop healthy coping mechanisms is key to children thriving,” Dr. Smith said.