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IU expert offers advice for parents on how to safeguard their children’s mental health



Indianapolis, Indiana – Doctors advise parents to check in with their children now that school is back in session. More kids may be struggling with mental health difficulties, according to National Institutes of Health research.

According to the NIH’s 2022 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, close to 20% of all children in the United States between the ages of 3 and 17 suffer from mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral issues.

At the Indiana University School of Social Work, Dr. Barbara Pierce teaches social work.

According to Pierce, students are not just concerned about issues at home but also experience pressure at school.

For instance, many children might not have eaten since the previous day of school, and some students might have trouble falling asleep at night. According to Pierce, families with problems like domestic violence or substance addiction can affect students.
“Children also have difficulties with learning, concentrating, and remembering all the stuff that every kid in school as to learn how to do. These children have more difficulty with those issues. They might also have lower motivation for school. That is, they might not want to get up and go to school because they don’t like the way it feels. They might feel stigmatized because they do have a mental health diagnosis where they’re really anxious. They might not even know what the word stigma means, but they feel it.”

Students may experience the effects of academic and peer pressure, bullying, and unconscious or explicit bias while they are at school. It’s crucial to keep in mind that physical and mental wellness are intertwined, with mental wellness having an impact on both.

“If parents do notice that their child is struggling with school or has issues with sleep or eating, or look looking like they’re really sad, or having children express that they’re really sad, or that they don’t want to go to school, or if your child expresses thoughts of suicide or wanting to harm themselves, parents need to get help,” Pierce said.

According to her, more children have lost loved ones to gun violence than at any other time in recent memory.

Children should be encouraged by their parents to form good relationships at home, at school, and in the community, such as in their friend group, church, or community center.

If your child is displaying indications of a mental health crisis or suicidal ideation, parents should phone their doctor or the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988.

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