Children’s mental health during the pandemic

As the United States approaches 2 full years of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental illness and the demand for psychological services are at all-time highs—­especially among children. While some children benefited from changes like remote learning, others are facing a mental health crisis. Prior to COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data found 1 in 5 children had a mental disorder, but only about 20% of those children received care from a mental health provider. Whether kids are facing trauma because of child abuse or loss of a family member or everyday anxiety about the virus and unpredictable routines, they need even more support now—all amid a more significant shortage of children’s mental health resources.

In a 2020 survey of 1,000 parents around the country facilitated by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, 71% of parents said the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health, and 69% said the pandemic was the worst thing to happen to their child. A national survey of 3,300 high schoolers conducted in spring 2020 found close to a third of students felt unhappy and depressed much more than usual.

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