Local experts on how the pandemic is hurting children’s mental health

Lena Weib

FALL RIVER — Has your child or teenager started struggling mentally or acting out during the pandemic? You’re not alone.

At 21 months and counting, the pandemic has taken a toll on most people. But, local experts say children and teenagers are being particularly impacted mentally and emotionally, leading to an increase in problems like anxiety and depression and negative changes in behavior for many.

“Children thrive on predictability and stability,” said Dr. Elizabeth Englander, a professor of psychology at Bridgewater State University. “And right now, we’re in a situation where it’s the opposite of that.”

Englander’s research centers on children’s mental health, especially issues like bullying, cyberbullying and aggression in children. She said that, at the beginning of the pandemic, she and others were particularly worried about a spike in cyberbullying.

“But that really hasn’t materialized,” she said.

Depression and anxiety among children 

Instead, she and other researchers have seen an increase in children experiencing anxiety and depression based on metrics like hospital admissions for children experiencing mental health emergencies. Much of this, she said, stems from feelings of isolation and a lack of social interactions.

Staying safe:Dartmouth Police warn parents of social media scams targeting teens

Younger students, especially, are dealing with increased separation anxiety during in-person school, after becoming acclimated to being at home with their parents during remote learning.

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