Focusing on mental health

Local News

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Mental health counselors are concerned about an uptick in teens experiencing emotional stress and trauma during the pandemic.

WCIA spoke with Rosecrance Health Network’s Gail Raney about the impact of COVID-19 on students.

“We know it’s been a tough year for everyone, especially students, who have seen a big disruption in their lives with the loss of basic milestones that students are normally used to having in their lives,” Raney said. “With the remote learning, it’s given us the capacity to try to help them obviously with their studies, but they’re losing out on some of the normal socialization pieces and some of the social development items that in a normal year – if there is such a thing – they would be getting.”

Raney said that has led to a rise in stress and mental trauma, something that has been complicated by the inability to participate in normal stress relievers, like spending time in group activities. While school social workers are still working to help their students in-person and virtually, their access is different compared to typical school years. That means parents should be on the lookout for symptoms of stress, too.

“Just be on the lookout for some of the warning signs that the stress might be getting to be a little too much for the children,” Raney said. “Look for any changes, for example, in sleep patterns or in eating patterns. That’s kind of a sign. It doesn’t mean that there’s something negative going on, but it can be a sign and might trigger a conversation.”

Raney said another sign is if a family member is no longer enjoying certain activities they normally would enjoy. She suggested journaling or enjoying nature to relieve some stress.

“Then, if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it as a family or with your family members, students can reach out to those school social workers and the school counselors,” she suggested.

Additional resources include:

  • Rosecrance Health Network
    Free classes for families, virtual assessments, counseling, a Parent Cafe, webinars and more.
  • Illinois Call4Calm Text Line
    Text TALK to 552020 for English or HABLAR for Spanish
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • More services at IDHS

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