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Mental health issues rise in children

Mental Health Awareness Month
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a new national campaign, Sound It Out, uses the power of music to help parents and caregivers have conversations about emotional wellbeing with children.

“We found music that resonates with African Americans, black, Hispanic, Latinx young people. Those populations specifically because sometimes they do have more significant challenges in terms of accessing mental health care and they have that extra layer of racial injustice that they have to deal with and discrimination on top of being a teenager, on top of dealing with these issues in the pandemic,” said Psychiatrist, Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble.

According to the CDC, the pandemic has triggered a 31% increase in kids’ emergency room visits for mental health challenges, and suicide rates have tripled in 10-14-year-olds.

“All of this has been linked to isolation and loneliness that our young people are experiencing because they are forced to be in quarantine and are they’re not able to socialize in many instances with their peer groups. So, it’s an awful perfect storm of a lot of things that’s impacted our young people’s mental health,” said Breland-Noble.

“A lot of them are virtual learning and it’s changed their whole schedule and their whole way of life and so we’ve seen a lot more in depression and suicidal ideations and self-harming,” said Alliance Health Center Therapist, Kimberly Atkinson.

About half of all mental illnesses start before the age of 14. Depression, anxiety, and ADHD are all components of mental health that can become more severe as kids get older.

“The best thing each one of us can do, adult and or child is learning as much as we can about what mental illness looks like and how it shows up in our communities particularly if we’re of color. We’ve got to talk to our young people in ways that resonate with them and that encourages them to talk back with us,” said Breland-Noble.

“Really just watch your kids and if you see any strong changes and behaviors in them that’s whenever you really reach out for more professional help but I think just sticking with your routine schedule. Talking to them, listening to them, and spending time with them,” said Atkinson.

Parents are encouraged to go to Sounditouttogether.org for more resources and listen to the song lyrics as guides when talking to their children.

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