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More mental health resources needed for youth after the pandemic

Published: Mar. 27, 2022 at 10:24 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - There’s a bigger need for more mental health resources for school-aged children.

This comes as things in the classroom get back to normal, but now the attention is turning to the lasting impacts of COVID-19.

The nonprofit organization, Tu Nidito, has seen a major increase in referrals, especially for their bereavement program for kids and families who are grieving the death of a loved one.

A big concern right now is that there aren’t enough specialists to help these families right away. Some are having to wait several months for the help they need.

“We have heard from families that it’s been challenging to get in to see a therapist or a counselor at the moment,” said Brigid Frasquillo, Tu Nidito assistant program director. “Lots of people are just re-emerging from the pandemic and seeking mental health services that maybe have been delayed or emerging mental health needs that they now have due to the pandemic.”

The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, but she says especially on children and teens. Many are experiencing anxiety and depression from isolation with schools moving to remote learning and restrictions on extracurricular activities.

“Isolation from the pandemic is something we all experienced and when we’re leaving a loss of health due to an illness or grieving the death of a loved one, having a sense of community is so important,” she said.

According to Lancet Global Health Study, more than five million children have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19.

“Grief is such a complicated and personal process and when you’re a young child and you’re trying to figure out your emotions in general and then you throw grief into the mix, just trying to understand what they’re experiencing can be really challenging,” she said.

She also said there are some signs parents can look for if their children are struggling mentally like a change in behavior, academic performance, and stamina.

She fears that everyone who needs support may not be getting it because of financial concerns or the stigma around mental health.

“I think our society has come so far in terms of reducing that stigma, in terms of seeking out mental health services and resources for kids and for families,” she said. “That’s such a big part of why Tu Nidito exists is to create a community of acceptance and understanding for children who are grieving and to normalize that the emotions they’re experiencing are normal.”

Tu Nidito offers a number of support programs for families, kids, and teens. These are free of charge.

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