Finding Hope


Officials worry about mental health impacts on students throughout the pandemic

school students
Posted at 4:16 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 19:10:48-04

According to the CDC, in the last week of August more than 200,000 children were diagnosed with COVID-19 across the United States.

With higher case numbers, that means more students, not in the classroom learning and officials worry the constant change in rules and disruption of schedule might have an impact on your student’s mental health throughout the pandemic.

“I have never seen so much anxiety, depression and other mental health issues in children going down to very young ages,” Primary Health CEO Dr. David Peterman said.

“Kids are having to deal with loss and grief at earlier ages and times of their lives when they should haven’t to because they are losing family members who were not vaccinated,” Pediatric Hospitalist Director for Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Dr. Jessica King said.

Health officials are very concerned about the mental health effects this pandemic is having on kids who are constantly missing school either exposed to COVID-19 or waiting for a negative test.

“I can personally speak to that as a mom, anytime my child has any symptoms they go down to the nurse's office, they are sent home, and can't return without a negative COVID test so kids are missing a lot of days of school,” King said. “The other thing we have seen an uptick in is suicide attempts during the pandemic.”

Between February and March of this year, emergency department visits for presumed suicide attempts were more than 50% higher among girls aged 12-17 than in 2019 according to the CDC.

“We are very concerned about the mental health effects that this pandemic is having on kids,” King said.

The best way to keep kids in class and away from the hospital experts say is to get kids who are eligible vaccinated.

“Unvaccinated teens, their hospitalization rate is 10 times more than the vaccinated," Peterman said.

Right now, the vaccine isn’t yet approved for children under the age of 12. With hope Pfizer's vaccine will soon be approved for ages 5 to 11, officials still worry about the safety of those under 5.

“The best way we have of protecting our children, our vulnerable population is to vaccinate everyone around them. It's not going to be impervious, but it's our best chance at keeping those kids safe until the vaccine is approved for everyone.”