The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many of us who now work remotely. The pandemic has also led to remote learning for our school-aged children and young adults who attend college. Some areas around the country closed schools in March 2020 and have not opened since then. While following COVID-19 protocols is necessary, the absence of being in a school surrounded by peers is taking a toll on our children’s mental health.
The Social Impact of Remote Learning on Children
The shift from in-person to remote learning has been challenging for many children and young adults. Being in school and learning in a classroom setting is more practical for academic and social development. Attending virtual classes has made many kids feel isolated, alone, and even scared. For children who already have mental health complications, remote learning can increase depression and anxiety.
Many children rely on schools for mental and behavioral health services. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), before COVID-19, an estimated one in five U.S. children experienced a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. These included anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and disruptive behavioral disorders. However, only about 20% of children receive care from a specialized mental health provider. Without access to these services, mental health conditions and behavioral disorders can worsen.
Many children and adolescents cannot participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs, with school closures. Many kids will not attend events, including prom, school fairs, or school field trips. For many others, school meals may be the only meal they receive throughout the day. Some could be home alone during the day as parents leave for work.
The social impact of remote learning on children can be devastating. Teachers who were able to identify whether a child is abused or neglected at home might have a more difficult time reaching that observation in an online classroom. Mental health can rapidly decline, putting a child at risk of self-harm, depression, and anxiety.
Mental Health Conditions
Depression is debilitating and can make you feel alone, tired, and unmotivated. When children suffer from depression, they can become withdrawn or show physical symptoms, such as aches and pains. Some of the symptoms of depression in children include:
- Loss of interest
- Problems concentrating
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Aggression or angry outbursts
- Low self-esteem
- Talking about death
Some symptoms of depression can mimic other psychiatric conditions, such as ADHD or anxiety disorders. Before 2020, there was already evidence that young people’s mental health problems were increasing. The 12-month prevalence of a major depressive disorder in U.S. adolescents increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014.
Staying energized and motivated in a distance-learning model can be very challenging. Younger children who need supervision can quickly get distracted and not perform well in an online environment. Teens and older children miss socializing with friends as they usually would before the pandemic. Remote learning can make kids feel disconnected and anxious about their future in an educational environment.
Anyone can develop a mental health disorder or behavioral problem. Teens and adolescents who struggle with mental health issues are at high risk of turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Drug and alcohol use can lead to a substance use disorder (SUD). Certain drugs and alcohol can worsen mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Using substances to cope can cause serious health risks, including heart attack, liver failure, overdose, or death.
Ways to Improve Mental Health
Remote learning can make kids less active than they usually would be if they were attending school in-person. Inactivity and sitting still for long periods throughout the day can be difficult, especially for kids who struggle with ADHD. Parents can encourage their children to use time n between classes to stand up, walk around, and go outside for some fresh air if weather permits.
Physical activity can significantly improve a child’s mental health. Young people who exercise regularly have lower levels of depression, stress, psychological distress, higher levels of a positive self-image, life satisfaction, and psychological well-being. Regular exercise and staying active can also improve behavior, including those with behavioral disorders, such as ADHD.
Youth Mental Health Services
The COVID-19 pandemic impacts young children and teens, and remote learning makes them susceptible to feeling isolated, putting them at risk of developing mental health complications. If left untreated, these symptoms can worsen or last well into adulthood.
Youth mental health services are available at Achieve Concierge. They can include medication, psychotherapy, or both to help a child or teen who experiences depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms. Also, alternative therapies like music or art therapy, meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques may be used as part of a mood disorder treatment program for a child or teen.
If social isolation and remote learning affect your child or teen, do not hesitate to ask for help. At Achieve Concierge, we want to help your child or teen find ways to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team of dedicated professionals can help identify a treatment plan based on your child’s needs.
Remote learning for children and young adolescents has been necessary for some parts of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation and distance learning can significantly impact academic and social development, which can increase f anxiety and depression symptoms. We can help your child or teen find ways to cope, and our team of clinicians is dedicated to developing the best option for your child’s needs. Each child who struggles with mental health symptoms responds differently to treatment. At Achieve Concierge, we offer youth mental health services to help ease anxiety and depression. We offer same-day appointments in person, and appointments with all our providers can be made via telemedicine. We take a holistic approach to treatment and want to help by determining the best course of action to treat your child’s mental health symptoms. To find out more about our services and treatment plans, call Achieve Concierge at (858) 221-0344.