In the last decade, the number of children reporting suicidal thinking and feelings of hopelessness has increased by 71% while completed suicides by children have increased by 56%.
These grim statistics were true even before the overlay of social isolation and anxiety created by a global pandemic, when children lost loved ones and parents lost jobs. The closing of schools isolated them from the normative social, educational and developmental experiences of school and sports and play. As pointed out by the New York Times, the school closures at the same time isolated our children from the teachers and school staff “whose open doors and compassionate advice helped them build self-esteem, navigate pressures … and cope with trauma.”
It has now been more than two years since schools re-opened. Concerns remain, however, about the long-term impact of what a year of isolation and anxiety had on developing children. According to Drs. Theberath. Bauer, Chen et al, these concerns are justified. They write, “although most children and adolescents infected with Covid-19 appear to have had mild to moderate (physical) symptoms, and limited mortality rates, a recent review has identified various mental health problems among those exposed to the pandemic, including anxiety, stress, depression, panic, irritability, impulsivity, sleep problems, emotional volatility, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal behavior.”
In this episode, Tricia speaks with a former School Psychologist, Dr. Claudia Sosa-Valderrama, the Director of Student Support Services at Long Beach Unified School District. Dr. Sosa-Valderrama oversees supportive services at the third largest and one of the most diverse school districts in California.
In My Backyard is brought to you by The Guidance Center, a children’s mental health agency in Long Beach, CA. In My Backyard is produced by Tricia Costales and Matthew Murray. Thank you to Jay Vincent B for original music. All other music licensed through SoundStripe. Thank you to our listeners and supporters.
Please visit tgclb.org or text HOPE to 562-262-5689 to make a one-time donation or join our Hope and Healing Club to become a monthly donor today. And subscribe to In My Backyard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.