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Suicidal thoughts surface in kids during pandemic according to ASPIRE clinicians

Updated: May. 8, 2021 at 12:37 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Suicidal thoughts could be running through the minds of some 8 to 10-year-olds in Southwest Georgia.

That’s the frightening reality according to some Aspire Behavioral Health leaders, but they said they’re doing their part to help.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is Friday and ASPIRE Behavioral Health leaders recognize it with a carnival for their Clubhouse Kids. It’s in conjunction with a campaign called “Free Your Feels Friday” in which kids are encouraged to do just that, express their feelings.

They are also hosting a 5K run and more this weekend.

If you want to learn more click here.

Programs and events like this are intended to help kids with their mental health struggles.

Clinicians said they’ve seen a “significant increase” in mental health struggles among younger people during the pandemic, but it’s not just COVID-19 that’s affecting them. They believe it could be coupled with technology, social isolation and many kids trying to cope with losing loved ones.

They’re seeing kids as young as 8 and 10 years old facing these struggles.

“A higher rate of suicidal ideations, higher rate of depression and anxiety in our youth and young adults,” said Andrea Kromminga, a youth and young adults coordinator for ASPIRE Behavioral Health.

Kromminga said a lot of this can actually be caused by our kids’ peers and their social situations.

So, if your kid is struggling with any of this, what are some solutions?

One of the ways is to make sure your kids have structured routines and hobbies. Even if they are being schooled virtually right now, make sure they get up and get started with a routine.

Also, check-in with your kids, talk to them one-on-one every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. They said connection and quality time are key.

“And normalizing conversations around mental health. Just as you’d go to the doctor for a broken arm, you know, normalizing that, how are you feeling today and what does that mean. Even with youth, a lot of times they don’t really know the label for anxiety. They may know their heart is racing, their hands are clammy. But what is that? What is that called? What do you do with that?” explained Kromminga.

Clinicians said they have therapists in 25 schools across eight Southwest Georgia counties, trying to do their part at school and hoping families do their part at home.

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