Talk Therapy With Vera

How Kids Mental Health Suffered Throughout COVID-19

Take a listen to Vera talk with host Jim
Richards from Newstalk 1010 on how kids suffered from mental health throughout COVID-19 and it’s implications.

Jim Richards [00:00:00] Um, there has been, uh, uh, uh, some, I don’t know if anybody would find, uh, it hard to believe what this new data points to, but it looks like the kids that did have a hard time during the pandemic mental health-wise, and you all know that because we heard so many of your stories concerned about what being away from school was doing to your kids. Apparently, uh, it hasn’t necessarily wane. Maybe I’m putting it the wrong way. Vera Chang is with us right now. She’s a mental health advocate, social worker and psychotherapist. Thank you very much for your time, Vera.


Vera Cheng [00:00:36] Thank you for having me today. So


Jim Richards [00:00:38] What are the numbers showing us from this research?


Vera Cheng [00:00:44] That’s a really good question. I think there’s been a significant, you know, increase that, like you said earlier, that kids are definitely have mental health, um, issue due to the, um, during, during the covid. And now we are even after the not, we’re haven’t, we’re not even, um, in a post pandemic cause because we’re still in a, in the pandemic right now. So they, I have seen a significant increase in my clientele when parents are telling me that they’re seeing early signs and symptoms of children’s behavior that are impacting their mental health, for example, where there is been a frequent outbursts of anger or whether their kids are telling them that they don’t wanna go to school or whether there’s been an increase of substance use. And this really worries about worries my clients because they don’t know how to support the children.


Jim Richards [00:01:34] So the imprint, I think most people would agree with, and maybe you’d disagree with this, but we’ve always learned that the imprint that your youth has on you in terms of your mental health probably follows you for the rest of your life. So kids that have learn lived through a three year almost, uh, pandemic, this is something that’s going to be with them probably for the rest of their life. I’m guessing parents hoped when things went back to normal that their kids would return to normal, but that’s not what the, this research shows.


Vera Cheng [00:02:08] No, I, I agree with you. I think it’s, yes, it does have an imprint, but I think it’s also finding, um, strategies and support system on how to help your kids navigate the mental health. And that’s the important piece because if there’s no proper support or no proper services in place, their kids are not gonna be able to, to manage on their own and, and navigate their mental health.


Jim Richards [00:02:32] Have you seen that increase as well right now? A again, people thinking that, oh, for the most part we’re back to normal after the pandemic, uh, and my child’s gonna return to normal. But have you seen this increase continue?


Vera Cheng [00:02:47] Um, I have seen the increase continue when my, uh, like I said earlier when my p when my clients who other parents who are sharing with me their, the concerns and they don’t know how to support their, their children. And I, I have definitely seen that, you know, children who are neurodivergent definitely have a hard


Jim Richards [00:03:04] What does that mean? Sorry.


Vera Cheng [00:03:05] Um, no, no worries. Um, it’s with kids who are diagnosed with either autism, autistic or have a d d or a d h adhd. So that’s when they would have a harder time to adapt new, new changes in new environment, especially when the school, like, when, you know, when and you know, a few years ago when they have to change everything to be online


Jim Richards [00:03:26] Learning. So you’re definitely saying that your increase and the increase that we’re seeing in kids, uh, getting mental health help, there is a correlation between what they want went through during the pandemic and where they find themselves now.


Vera Cheng [00:03:40] Yes, yes.


Jim Richards [00:03:42] So it, it’s interesting because although I do think my parents are very, uh, compassionate and have empathy, a lot of us have been raised through generations of, you know, kind of, uh, suck it up or we don’t cry or we don’t talk about our feelings, that sort of thing. Uh, what what are you you seeing now in terms of how parents are maybe a little more willing to talk to their kids and accept what is going on and get them help?


Vera Cheng [00:04:10] I’m really glad you brought this up. I think like you said, there’s just been a lot of mental health stigma in the older generation, but now because we’re trying to decrease the mental health stigma, so now more parents who are wanting to support their kids are actually coming into therapy on asking like, how can I support my kids? And sometimes at what I suggest or, or how I can provide them with support. It’s being able to, not just looking at the early signs and and symptoms of what they’re showing you, but being able to build that relationship with your kids and asking them how you doing and, and get ’em to talk to you about like, how about how’s their day going or what’s upsetting you versus, instead of not even asking them and building that relationship.


Jim Richards [00:04:53] I don’t think we’ve seen information that has said that the violence that we’re seeing, particularly in Toronto with young people, has increased given any other time. I I I’m not sure if it’s just the news cycle picking it up more, but do you think that it has, and if it has, is there co a correlation between what we’re talking about, uh, through the pandemic and Covid?


Vera Cheng [00:05:21] Um, while I have done some research, um, there have been, studies have indicated that when the increase of mental health cases is related to youth violence, where, which also indicate that there are more kids are more at risk than others, and this can also be a barrier that can contribute to the increase of youth violence, whether such as underfunding of mental health services or not being able to prioritize the mental health, which can make it harder for youth to address the issues earlier on. And this could potentially prevent possible bad decisions and outcomes later in life. And one thing I do wanting to see change in early intervention would be sort of improving the school support, um, based mental health services by starting even by starting at a primary level.


Jim Richards [00:06:07] Can I ask you if parents are listening right now and they’ve had waits to get, uh, to see somebody with their kids, what can parents do uh, right away out of the gate to help their kids?


Vera Cheng [00:06:21] I think one thing is to recognizing that if you’re, like I said earlier, if you’re starting to see early signs and, and, and and about their own, their, their, sorry. When you see early signs of their mental health symptoms of the kids is actually have, if you can actually have an open dialogue with them and ask them what’s been happening and get them trying to get them to open up and build that relationship with them. And when you are having trouble, they’re not willing to talk about it. You also, at the same time, you don’t want it to, we put be too pushy eater. It’s, I think it’s also reaching out for additional support, whether, you know, seeking mental health professional, whether they can provide you with some guidance on how to support your children.


Jim Richards [00:07:04] Uh, what my mic’s off. Oh, sorry. My sorry Vera, thank you very much. I thought I said goodbye to you, but apparently I don’t know how to turn on my mic only 35 years into the radio business. <laugh>, I’m sure I’ll catch on at some point, uh, how kids mental health has suffered as we’ve managed through covid that discussion. And the, the real discussion is the fact that these things don’t go away unless you talk about it with your kids. So don’t be afraid to do that.


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