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Remote Learning and Its Effects on Mental Health

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 When children suffer from depression, they can become withdrawn or show physical symptoms, such as aches and pains.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
  • Hopelessness
  • 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.

Understanding the Difference between Childhood ADHD and a Learning Disability

Parenting a child with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be challenging. Understanding the difference between childhood ADHD and a learning disability can help you prepare and create ways for your child to succeed. ADHD can cause learning difficulties, but it is distinct from a learning disability.

While it is possible to have ADHD alone or a learning disability without ADHD, they can co-occur. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, 30-50% of children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability, and both conditions can intertwine to make learning very challenging.

What Causes ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it hard for a child to focus, pay attention, sit still, and control impulsive behavior. Most children are diagnosed with ADHD at an early age, and symptoms can last through adulthood. ADHD affects approximately three to five percent of children in the U.S. When children have ADHD, they can fall behind academically due to inadequate attention skills and inability to focus. ADHD can affect school or work performance and interfere with socialization among friends.

The cause and risk factors for developing ADHD are currently unknown but can be linked to genetics. Many children who have ADHD also struggle with other disorders, such as anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder, or Tourette’s syndrome.  

What Are the Differences Between ADHD and a Learning Disability?

Children who have ADHD or a learning disability can struggle with confidence, self-esteem, self-image, and rejection from peers. ADHD can lead to aggressive behavior, angry outbursts, and interrupting others, leading to rejection by peer groups and friends. There are three symptoms commonly linked to ADHD: inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity or acting without thinking.

According to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, researchers believe that some people with ADHD do not have enough neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that help control a person’s behavior. Some parts of the brain that control behavior were smaller in kids with ADHD than in children without ADHD. A diagnosis for ADHD is based on criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Symptoms need to significantly impair a child’s performance at school and at home to meet the criteria.

Learning disabilities can occur in children with exceptional intelligence and interfere with one or more learning areas. A child who struggles with a learning disorder can have difficulty with a specific set of skills, despite trying hard to achieve them, making a child frustrated and affecting self-esteem, confidence, and school performance.

Learning disabilities continue into adolescence and adulthood, and although there is no cure for learning disabilities, they can be managed successfully. Children with learning disabilities can get extra help or even qualify for special education in school. Some examples of learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia: Reversing letters or numbers
  • Dyscalculia: Difficulty with math
  • Dysgraphia: Problems with handwriting motor skills
  • Non-verbal learning disabilities: Poor coordination and inability to understand facial expressions
  • Reading comprehension deficit: Problems understanding what they read

Learning disabilities can also affect executive functioning, such as organization, strategizing, decision-making, and time management. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a part of U.S. legislation that ensures all children with disabilities receive free appropriate public education to meet their specific needs and prepares them for advanced education, employment, and independent living. 

Tips For Parents of Children With ADHD

Parenting a child with ADHD or a learning disability is challenging and can make parents feel helpless, hopeless, and guilty for their child’s behavior. Often parents feel increased stress, anxiety, and frustration as they come to grips with their child’s condition. Parents sometimes blame themselves for their child’s behavior and wonder if they could have prevented it. Here are some helpful tips for parents of children who struggle with ADHD symptoms:

  • Learn about ADHD. Understanding ADHD and your child’s symptoms can help you discover ways to help your child.
  • Communicate with teachers and educational professionals. Discuss your child’s success and struggles in school and at home.
  • Keep your child on the recommended dose of medication. Do not stop giving your child their medication without consulting the prescribing medical professional.
  • Praise your child’s efforts, no matter how small they seem; this can help boost your child’s confidence.
  • Set clear and concise expectations. When your child knows what is expected of them, they can better understand acceptable behavior.
  • Talk to your child’s therapist about the best ways to discipline your child. Each child’s situation is unique, and what works for one child might not work for everyone.
  • Acknowledge positive behaviors. Compliment your child on their acceptable behavior.
  • Set aside time to spend together on fun activities. Quality time spent with your child can reduce stress for you and your child.

There is no cure for ADHD, but it is treatable with medication, psychotherapy, and behavioral therapy. Natural treatment for ADHD is also available and can be tailored to each person’s own unique needs.

Getting Help For Your Child

Medication is sometimes used to increase the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. Stimulant medications that are commonly used in ADHD treatment include amphetamines and methylphenidates. Behavioral therapy is also used in treating children with ADHD and can be used in conjunction with medication or without it. Behavioral therapy can improve a child’s self-control, self-esteem, and behavior.

At Achieve Concierge, our team of clinicians can perform in-depth assessments and develop a treatment plan for your child’s unique needs. Each child responds differently to treatment. If you are a parent of a child who struggles with ADHD, do not hesitate to get help. While there is no cure, treatment is available.  

 

ADHD and learning disabilities share common traits but are treated differently. ADHD can cause disruptions in school performance, interruptions with relationships, and negatively affect life at home. Most children benefit from medication and behavioral therapy. Our expert medical clinicians at Achieve Concierge are dedicated to patient care and support and can provide the best strategy for treating your child. We offer individualized support to help your child cope with symptoms of ADHD so they can be successful in school, develop and maintain friendships, and control impulsive and disruptive behaviors at home. We offer same-day appointments in person, as well as telemedicine appointments. We want to help you and your child by determining the best course of action to treat their ADHD symptoms. To find out more information about our services, call Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344.

Staying Happy and Anxiety-Free During “Safer at Home” Order

Staying Happy and Anxiety-Free During “Safer at Home” Order

COVID-19 took the nation by storm. For many Americans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression, it completely halted their coping strategies and healing processes. Everything went from normal to lockdown in a matter of days. For many people, their coping mechanisms included support groups, church, being outside, playing sports, or visiting friends. This all came to a screeching halt.

With no end to the coronavirus in sight, no one really knows when life will go back to normal — if it ever does. These coping strategies may help you get through the remaining months of the “safer at home” orders that are being implemented by many states.

Online Zoom Hangouts

Just because social distancing is encouraged doesn’t mean that you need to distance yourself from your support groups, loved ones, and friends. When you can’t see them in person, Zoom hangouts are the next best thing! Reach out to your support groups, your family, and people you have developed friendships with (or would like to). Virtual hangouts could be a great way to stay connected to others who may also be trying to maintain the same coping strategies that you are.

Organize one night a week when your friends all get onto a video chat platform and talk about your week or play a game together. Several streaming websites have started “watch with a friend” programs that allow people to watch the same show at the exact same time. You can even chat with each other during the program.

Pick Up a New Hobby or Skill

Language learning platforms and educational websites are thriving right now. This is a perfect time to learn a new language for your big trip next year or learn how to sculpt, paint, or code computers. In this age of technology, you have unlimited information at your fingertips. Sometimes it all gets to be too much, and you just need to distract yourself. Try listening to a new podcast series, tackling home renovations, or cooking the latest dish. The sky’s the limit!

Start a New Physical Activity Regime

Now is a great time to get into a workout routine, as we are all at home. Start with one 30-minute walk or jog and increase the amount of activity every day to create a habit. Exercise is proven to boost your mood and happiness. Try to exercise outside when you can to get extra Vitamin D as well.

Check-in on People You Care About

This is a time when many people are nervous, and everything is unprecedented. Remember that everyone else is also trying to cope with these world changes. It could be beneficial for you to send your friend a text asking how they are holding up or reminding someone you love that you’re thinking about them.

Don’t Try to Break Every Bad Habit at Once

Many people are wanting to utilize this time to kick their bad habits. Take it slow while you are combating old habits and reinforcing new ones. Don’t go cold turkey and stop everything right away — adequately tackle one addiction before moving onto another one. Make sure that you are replacing a bad habit with a good one. For example, if you decided to quit smoking, try replacing it with going for a walk.

Refrain From Negative Talk

Try to not hold yourself back with negative self-talk. Instead of saying “I’m stuck inside,” try replacing that thought with “I am grateful to have time to focus on myself and my home.” Working from home is an excellent opportunity to switch your focus from external issues to internal issues.

Having a mindset of being stuck or restrained during this time is not productive, and it will only stress you out more. Take a step back when you are feeling overwhelmed to focus on yourself and your opportunity to grow.

Avoid Obsessing Over Coronavirus News

While it is important to make sure you’re in the loop on the latest pandemic coverage, you should also be mindful that you don’t need to hear the same coverage over and over from news stations. Every morning, go on the internet or turn on the television for one hour and allow yourself to get the news you need — and then shut it off. Instead of watching constant news updates, focus on staying healthy and calm during a global state of unrest.

The qualified team of mental health professionals at Achieve Concierge understands how stressful these unprecedented times are. Whatever your needs may be, we are committed to providing the highest level of mental wellness care with personalized service that is second to none. To learn more, call us today at (858) 221-0344.