Recognizing pandemic-related mental health issues in your kids



Let’s all start talking to relieve stress


In the time of Covid-19, a “moody kid,” may be more than just moody. Here’s how to see what might be hiding in plain sight.

In the first few weeks of shutdown, a friend was telling me how surprised he was at his daughter’s seeming resilience in the face of being sent home in her senior year of college due to Covid-19. He and his wife had grieved for their child’s losses – commencement, plus springtime senior activity that she’d been looking forward to since freshman year. But the daughter seemed remarkably OK, even energized by the intensity of it all, the strangeness.

“It’s because she’s a digital native,” he’d wagered. Meaning she’d never known a time without computers or the Internet and was long acquainted with fostering and maintaining relationships online. So endless Zoom classes, Facetime, Google hangouts, et al, were not a stretch. Also, a longtime “indoor kid,” she didn’t seem to mind the long days of spring and early summer, spent largely in front of screens.  

On the day of her “virtual graduation,” however, she fell into a black mood and refused to be part of the proceedings. These moody episodes have continued. Heading into fall, seven months into the ever-evolving “new normal” of a pandemic, she’s seeing a therapist, on antidepressant medication, and doing OK.

In her article for mindbodygreen.com, psychotherapist Dr. Annette Nunez advises parents to be on the lookout for such pandemic-related changes in child behavior, noting that especially younger children – particularly extroverts – suffer when deprived of routine that ordinarily offer a sense of structure in a chaotic world.

Personalities make a difference. Says Dr. Nunez: “Children who are more introverted and who are shy may be thriving spending more time at home and learning online. Children who have an extroverted personality, on the other hand, are likely missing the ability to socialize with their peers, work in teams, and feed off one another's energy.”

Dr. Nunez cites these as warning signs: Changed or bad sleep habits, physical complaints, dietary changes, and mood swings. All can be calls for help. She recommends talking about it, looking into your child’s school therapist (if there is one), and, of course, calling a health care professional if any of the above situations worsen or become chronic.

Dr. Nunez also stresses that it’s normal for everyone – parents and children – to be experiencing grief, anxiety, and depression in these trying times, and to be aware that talking it through can be a good start towards relieving emotional stress for all.

Need to talk to someone. Use the following hotlines:

Call Centers:
Dutchess - 845-486-2700 / 845-485-9700
Orange - 888-750-2266
Ulster - 845-340-9000

National Alliance on Mental Illness
Dutchess County helpline talk or text
845-485-9700 or toll free 877-485-9700

Orange County Crisis Call Center
311 in Orange County
(845) 346-HELP outside Orange County

Orange County Crisis Call Center
Confidential textline for teens for info, referrals or just to chat
Text4Teens is now available 24 hours a day by texting 845-391-1000

Mental and Emotional Wellness Resources: Orange County
Helpline/Rapeline (800) 832-1200

Mobile Mental Health Hotline is the only one of its kind in Sullivan County
The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties, NY hosts “Children’s Mobile Crisis Intervention” service in the Sullivan County area. The program, which is for children under 18, is designed to assist a parent or guardian in need of an intervention during a time of crisis. The program operates after traditional business hours when most children are at home.
845-701-3777

NYS has set up a COVID Mental Health Hotline, staffed by over 6,000 mental health professionals, that people can access to access online or by phone. Call if you need help in coping with the stress, anxiety, isolation, etc. 
1-844-863-9314

Ulster County COVID-19 Hotline
845-443-8888

Ulster County Mobile Mental Health
Mobile Mental Health is operated by ACCESS: Supports for Living, between the hours of 10 AM - 10 PM.
1-844-277-4820.

Family of Woodstock, Inc.
(845) 679-2485 or 338-2370
(845) 647-2443
(845) 255-8801



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