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Kids and mental health: Tips for helping kids face challenges

Stress and loss of socialization opportunities due to the pandemic have exacerbated many mental health conditions. Sponsored by Premera.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on many new challenges for families and kids.

“Families are facing all of the challenges that they’ve had forever, which is struggles with anxiety and symptoms of depression, traumas, disruptive behaviors and tantrums,” said Alexandra Boeving Allen, Ph.D., Brightline's head of therapy and VP clinical strategy. 

“And then you layer on something like the pandemic, which I think as families we tend to think of as just this series of stressful events, but really, it’s a trauma, a significant trauma that families have been and are still going through.”

This trauma not only exacerbates pre-existing conditions, but it also can create new stress responses. Parents are seeing all of the struggles they faced before but with exacerbation and new challenges. 

“I would just urge a slight reframe for parents who are feeling anxious that the lasting effects really can be mitigated by intervention early on,” Dr. Allen said.

If you intervene in the right ways at the right time, treatment and coaching can help tremendously. It’s also important to maintain connection and routine during the pandemic in any way possible, even if it’s just with immediate family.

Tantrums and feeling sad or worried are normal. When these feelings and experiences start to impact a child’s ability to function, it’s time to seek help. That’s when issues can impact development and bring ongoing exacerbation that could lead to clinical levels of concern.

“I think one of the things that’s so important is starting early in the dialog and the conversations,” said Naomi Allen, CEO & co-founder of Brightline.

Even if a family isn’t ready for therapy yet, there are digital tools and resources from Brightline with information on things like having age-appropriate conversations with kids about the pandemic and mental health. 

As for therapy and coaching, families are embracing the shift to telehealth. 

“We’ve definitely seen a shift where families are excited to have virtual care, especially for their kids and especially around behavioral health,” Allen said.

Kids are able to receive behavioral health support in the comfort of their own homes, and clinicians are able to see kids in their own environments and build rapport.

Up to 75 percent of counties in the U.S. don’t have a pediatric-trained behavioral health specialist, so virtual care has been key in reaching families. 

To learn more about Brightline and the mental health care the company provides, visit the Brightline website

Sponsored by Premera as part of The Way ForwardSegment Producer Derek Haas. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day