In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.
Managing a child’s mental health can feel like an uphill battle with no end in sight. Often times, parents and caregivers feel lost when it comes to navigating through their child’s emotions when they are experiencing a mental health crisis or mitigating a situation before, during and after a crisis occurs.
Some of the best resources to help parents and caregivers better understand their child’s mental health are the same tools providers routinely use for any patient coming into Seattle Children’s with a mental health issue. Developed by pediatric mental health experts at Seattle Children’s and used in clinic for over a decade, the escalation cycle is one such tool that parents and caregivers can easily adapt to use at home.
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Dr. Yolanda Evans and social worker Erik Schlocker of Seattle Children’s Adolescent Medicine Clinic bring you this post as part of our Supporting Mental Wellness and Family Life During COVID-19 efforts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way humanity lives. We are sheltering in place, changing our patterns of social interactions, and relying on virtual connections to maintain relationships with people in our lives. The changes have been stressful for all of us.
For teens, the pandemic has meant school closures, missing normal, close personal connection with peers, inability to give hugs to friends as high school graduation season approaches, and potential for increases in anxiety and depression symptoms. Read full post »
Although children don’t typically fall seriously ill from the new coronavirus, doctors in Europe are now expressing concern that children with COVID-19 have developed mysterious symptoms that mimic those appearing with Kawasaki disease.
On the Pulse asked Dr. Michael Portman, pediatric cardiologist and director of the Kawasaki Disease Clinic at Seattle Children’s, to help break this emerging issue down for parents and caregivers. Read full post »
Adria Cooper, 17, shares her experience dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Being a teenager isn’t easy by any means. With school, friends, and extracurricular activities, along with added the pressure of increased responsibilities and desire for more independence, teens are battling a load of complex emotions on a day-by-day basis.
Now, top off their struggles with a global pandemic that’s completely transformed their lives, and they’ve got a whole new set of challenges they must navigate ahead of them.
“Being away from school and friends feels very weird,” said Adria Cooper, 17, a junior in high school. “Sometimes I am happy to be on my own and not have to worry about what other people think. I can do what I want, but other days I feel very isolated and lonely.”
As a society as a whole, it’s not surprising that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about increased feelings of loss, grief, uncertainty and loneliness.
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Parents are facing some high expectations right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a wave of uncertainty to our homes, impacting finances, food security, health and safety. And while that would have been plenty to worry about, many parents are also required to work from home while managing their child’s education at the kitchen table.
It’s a lot.
“We know there are direct correlations between parental stress and a parent’s ability to give their child the one-on-one positive interaction that kids need to thrive,” said Dr. Megan Frye, a child psychologist at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic. “We also know that the brain is super flexible. When we are going through stressful experiences, we as parents can learn and implement concrete skills and practices that will help us manage our own stress, connect better with our children and model what it looks like to be resilient when things are challenging.”
Reducing anxiety can feel impossible if your child care is obsolete and you don’t have time for an hour-long yoga class. On the Pulse has collaborated with Seattle Children’s experts to identify practical tips to help parents manage their stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and long after.
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In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, On the Pulse is shedding light on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on children, teens, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how we can support them through these uncertain times.
As a society, we often rely on routines. With the COVID-19 pandemic uprooting our daily activities, we are being challenged to adapt to what we’re considering the “new normal.”
This is an especially challenging time for those with autism. Routines are critical for individuals on the spectrum, as they thrive on structure and consistency.
In recent data from March 2020 released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism now affects 1 in 54 children. According to the CDC, ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Individuals often repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many also have different ways of learning, paying attention or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.
James Mancini, a speech and language pathologist with the Seattle Children’s Autism Center, and Tammy Mitchel, program director of the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, share ways individuals with autism and their families can cope during this unique time.
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The teachers at Seattle Children’s are experts at supporting kids and their families when children and teens are suddenly out of school. Scott Hampton, manager of K-12 Education Services, shares advice to support families in the community as they adjust to a new way of life while schools are closed.
Our world is facing an extraordinary challenge right now. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, it has disrupted and influenced all aspects of life. For families with school-aged children, a primary concern in these disruptions has been the closure of schools across our region and around the world. Read full post »
As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread, adults, children and teens are trying to make sense of what the outbreak means for their families and communities. Those with anxiety disorders may feel more worry than usual.
On the Pulse asked Dr. Jennifer Blossom, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Clinic, how to share information with the children and teens in your life in a way that helps prevent too much worry. The good news is that just as there are steps you can take to help you and your loved ones try to avoid the illness, there are steps you can take to help your child or teen cope with the situation.
“There are a number of ways parents can successfully help their child stay on track during this time,” Blossom said. “In general, the goal is for parents to encourage their child’s participation in routine activities, such as going to school (as informed by the most recent public health recommendations or decision by your child’s school district), while helping their child think realistically about the risks.” Read full post »
Digital devices like the iPad have only been around for about 10 years, but in that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life and research examining their impact on young children is limited.
Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was featured on the TODAY Show to discuss the evolving digital age children are growing up in. Watch as three families learn more about how their children interact with devices like the iPad and hear about the challenges Christakis faces as technology continues to advance at a much faster rate than our understanding of the impact of digital devices on a child’s developing mind.
It may seem as though digital devices and touch screens like the iPad have been around for decades, but the reality is that these devices have only been around for about 10 years. In that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life, but research on their impact is limited. What concerns researchers like Dr. Dimitri Christakis is that we don’t yet understand the effects these devices may have on young children, and so that’s why they’ve taken center stage in many of his research studies.
Christakis isn’t advocating for taking screens away from children. He simply hopes he can help parents and caregivers better understand and navigate how devices like the iPad can fit into their lives in a healthy way.
“The point isn’t that we should take away all digital devices, but rather that we should come at it from a different perspective,” Christakis said. “We should ask, ‘How can we help children live healthy lives in a digital world that they’re immersed in from birth?” Read full post »
In an episode of the popular TV show Big Little Lies, a character’s young daughter has an anxiety attack, prompted by worries about climate change. Though this may seem drastic, Dr. Kendra Read, attending psychologist and director of anxiety programs with Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine team, is having many conversations with families about how to cope with distressing news, such as mass shootings, crime, global politics and natural disasters.
“It’s common for kids to be worried about events that might potentially harm them or their loved ones,” Read said. “Worrying is normal and a typical part of life, but I tend to talk to children whose anxiety over current events impacts their daily functioning. They exaggerate the likelihood of bad things happening and underestimate their ability to cope with things.”
The key is helping kids cope with the worry about these events happening, even though the likelihood is small. With school back in session, Read offers advice to families whose children might experience heightened anxiety after a frightening news event.
“We want to bolster kids’ coping abilities and teach them how they can help themselves,” Read said. Read full post »