It is no secret that this year has had a tangible impact on our children’s mental health, sparked by cycles of fear, instability, and mixed signals from the pandemic response. A poll released in May by the American Psychiatric Association found that half of adults reported the pandemic was causing mental health problems for their children, and more than a quarter reported seeking professional help for their children. Given the undeniable saying that “we are only as happy as our least happy child,” this steep decline in well-being is an immediate concern for parents. However, it likewise presents the opportunity to increase mental health awareness and carry meaningful discussions with our loved ones around their own safety and welfare.
Knowing how intrinsically bound mental health is to financial well-being, Beacon Pointe’s Women’s Advisory Institute recently hosted an event to help parents navigate this prevalent issue in our community. The conversation consisted of a panel of three expert psychologists, introduced by Beacon Pointe’s Chief Practice Officer, Commie Stevens, with moderated question and answer sessions led by Beacon Pointe Managing Directors, Jill Steinberg and Michele Sarna. Each panelist brought a unique perspective to the table regarding children, adolescents, and young adults. The panel answered numerous questions on the role the pandemic, technology and societal pressures have played in triggering mental health issues for all ages and shared a plethora of tips and resources to help aid children in overcoming their anxieties.
Presenting our panelists:
Courtney Harkins holds a doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and received a Master of Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She works in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and their families as a clinical supervisor at JSerra Catholic High School.
Meredith Gerckens obtained a Bachelor of Psychology from Gettysburg College and a Masters in School Counseling from Montclair State University. She works as a district level administrator of school counselors for Nutley Public Schools in New Jersey, overseeing counselors within five schools.
Karen Moon, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist, received a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St Louis. She has 30 years of experience and primarily works with college-aged students and their families within her practice.
A few key takeaways from the discussion:
- Pay attention to your children’s actions and, sometimes more importantly, inactions. Doing so can help you to identify that they may be anxious.
- Anxious children may vocalize feelings of stomachaches, nausea or use other strategies and excuses to avoid facing fears that may be causing them anxiety.
Technology and Social Media
- The immediacy of technology and games are giving children smaller attention spans and skills atrophy for social interaction.
- It is important to communicate with your children that much of social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives and doesn’t show the negative. It is important to teach them not to compare themselves to others because of what they see on social media.
- Parents should help their kids see how social media serves or disserves them. As a parent, you can be intentional about your social media use in front of your children.
- Clear limits are important, such as no screens past 10:00pm for teenagers.
- Social media is like a chocolate cake – continual intake will never make you feel better, but there is nothing wrong with a planned time to sit and eat a slice of cake. Everything in moderation.
Role of the Pandemic
- It is important to acknowledge potential trauma induced by the pandemic and allow the flow of feelings and discussion. Parents set the emotional tone for
- College kids have been under added stress from constantly changing rules, lack of social interaction and peer-to-peer adult connection.
Additional Tips for Parents to Help Their Children
- As a parent, check your own anxiety and mental health because it will inextricably trickle into the lives of your children.
- Openly discuss with your children this past year and what you have personally learned from it.
- Remind your children that it is okay to feel anxiety, as the world re-emerges post-pandemic.
- Parents can hold open conversations about their own anxiety and encourage children to stay curious about their feelings instead of pushing them away.
In addition to the above, a recording of our recent virtual event with additional information and helpful tools for coping with anxiety is now available – click here to view the video, and feel free to pass it along to your friends and family who could benefit from this helpful information.
We also have compiled a resource guide for you and your loved ones that expands upon the mental health topics and resources discussed within Beacon Pointe’s virtual event.
Important Disclosure: This content is for informational purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Beacon Pointe has exercised all reasonable professional care in preparing this information. Some information may have been obtained from third-party sources we believe to be reliable; however, Beacon Pointe has not independently verified, or attested to, the accuracy or authenticity of the information. Nothing contained herein should be construed or relied upon as investment, legal or tax advice. Only private legal counsel may recommend the application of this general information to any particular situation or prepare an instrument chosen to implement the design discussed herein. An investor should consult with their financial professional before making any investment decisions.
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