BOSTON (CBS) — A year into the coronavirus pandemic, doctors say they are seeing an increase in students who are struggling with mental health.
Seven-year-old Adam Kay loves school, but admits virtually learning is tough. “At home, you can’t get move around and get the teacher to see your hand or something. It’s really hard,” Adam Kay said. Adam is a second-grader at Lowell Elementary in Watertown, Massachusetts
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When he was fully remote last year his mom says he pretty much tuned out.
“He would cry at random things or he’d start hitting or getting aggressive,” said Rachel Kay. “I would turn on Zoom and he would run away.”
Dr. Erica Lee is a psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Kids aren’t really sure how to adapt to remote learning. They can’t pay attention,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of frustration, anxiety, and overwhelmed kids.”
Since the pandemic began, the need for mental, behavioral health services has skyrocketed, Lee said, and parents should look for warning signs and some cases seek help.
“How is your child doing emotionally? Are they seeming more isolated? Are they more sad? Are you noticing they are cranky? Those are all signs that kids are struggling,” Lee said.
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At Bradley Elementary in East Boston, Massachusetts, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders returned to the classroom today.
“You can see them smiling through their masks,” Principal Claire Carney said. “We do know that we do have work to do at schools when students come back to school to make them feel better about being back in person again and help them find their voice.”
Fortunately, Adam is back in the classroom five days a week at least for part of the day. He’s doing better, but his family is concerned about any long-term effects on his mental state and learning capacity.
“Are there long-term effects we should be looking for? Symptoms of depression,” Rachel Kay asked.
Health experts say it’s too early to judge. “The short answer is we’re just not quite sure yet. There is research that shows when kids go through major life events that kids bounce back,” Dr. Lee said.
It appears Adam is already on his way. “It has been better,” Adam said. “I think I’m going to become a scientist after COVID-19 is over.”
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For more information about kids and depression, visit the Boston Children’s Hospital website.