Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

VPM Daily Newscast May 2, 2022

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.    

Listeners can subscribe through NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Megaphone, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts. 

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is May 1 to 7, 2022. To share insights on ways adults can help children who are struggling VPM News Morning Edition anchor Phil Liles spoke with Dr. Karen Kochel, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Richmond.

PHIL LILES, VPM NEWS MORNING EDITION ANCHOR: What kind of changes have mental health professionals seen in young people over the course of the pandemic? 

DR. KAREN KOCHEL: Actually, across all age groups, including young people research consistently has shown that symptoms of psychological disorders and that includes depression and anxiety has increased overall. So for example, according to some studies, over 70% of parents report that COVID has adversely affected their children's mental health. And other studies have shown that about a third of adolescents are high school age students report symptoms consistent with a mental health disorder. 

LILES: What are some warning signs adults should look out for and children that might show if they need additional professional help?

KOCHEL: Most individuals affected by these disorders, display some symptoms that can be observed by others. So for example, youth who are affected by depression, often develop relationship difficulties. And this can be with family and peers, they might socially withdraw from others. Adults can also look out for significant changes in student's engagement and performance in school. Then there are other symptoms, which might include things like trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep or sleeping too much. If you lose interest in activities that would typically appeal to them. That might be things like playing on a sports team or attending piano lessons or hanging out with friends on the block, it could be a sign that they are experiencing some mental health difficulties, of course, more obvious kinds of behaviors, such as things like crying, frequently, appearing sad, being particularly irritable, more so anyway, that is then as normal for the for the average child could all be red flags. 

LILES: What are some tips for adults to be present emotionally available in children's lives during this time?

KOCHEL: Parents can just check in with their kids. They can express concern, let kids know that they want to help. And by expressing concern, parents are showing that they care and that they recognize, too, that something is different, that there might be a problem. This is important because children, especially children in early and middle childhood, may be aware that they feel unusually sad or worried. But they might not be able to express in words, how it is that they're feeling, or they might not feel comfortable doing so they might think for example, that their parents will be disappointed if they admit that they're having troubles. So expressing concern and unconditional love can be particularly helpful. A parent who has themselves experienced mental health challenges or maybe parents know a loved one who has might talk about their experiences. By doing so, parents are really modeling that it is acceptable to talk about and even really struggle with mental health and for that, for all of these challenges, we can go to professionals to help us get better.