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'It is really important to check in with your kids' | Experts detail pandemic's effect on children's mental health, how to help

Local mental health experts explain how the pandemic plays a big role. The CDC reports feelings of isolation, fear and grief has increased in school aged children.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mental health in kids is now declared a national emergency according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

With the increase in isolation, fear and grief the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an increase in emergency room visits for mental health emergencies in children 5-17, in the last year. At the beginning of 2021, the CDC saw a 51% increase in suicide attempts for girls 12-17. 

"Its really important to check in with your kids," University of Louisville (UofL) Health's Peace Hospital Children's Peace Center therapist Laura Hellman said. "This is totally different than anything that's happened. So, it does make sense that we are seeing the repercussions because it has been such a drastic and difficult situations."

Hellman said she has seen an increase in patients and that there are signs parents can look out for. 

"You know how they are acting, you know what is normal for them for lack of a better word," she said. "Kids start acting really different if they start isolating more, losing interest in the things that they used to enjoy. If they start getting irritable a lot more often."

Here are a few signs the children's peace center advises parents to be aware of:

  • Increased isolation
  • Irritability
  • No longer interested in things your child may have previously enjoyed
  • Acting out

There are a number of resources parents can use for help. Visit the center's website or call for an assessment at (502) 451-3333.

Additionally, parents can visit Seven Counties, an online resource here.

RELATED: Rural Kentucky communities lead charge in suicide prevention in schools

RELATED: Doctors declare national state of emergency for kids' mental health

Contact reporter Gabrielle Harmon at GHarmon@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter. 

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