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Local doctors notice rise in teen mental health issues

Anxiety and depression on the rise
Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 18:46:32-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Medical experts are saying a new pandemic is on the horizon; this one dealing with anxiety and depression in teens. The number of children and teens reporting mental health issues has skyrocketed in 2020.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, between April and October, emergency departments saw a more than 30% spike in visits from children 12 to 17-years-old for mental health problems.

Methodist pediatricians and therapists have noticed this trend themselves.

"Everyone has kind of realized, kids are doing well in the sense that they're not hospitalized with COVID, but they are disproportionately affected with all the other side effects of the pandemic. We know we're having mental health issues, there's food insecurity, there's bigger issues with ADHD, there's issues with social skills and bullying," said Methodist Physicians Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Matthew Gibson.

Dr. Gibson also said mental health used to be evaluated with general checkups and well-visits. Now, with fewer kids coming into the doctor's office, he's worried that critical signs are going unnoticed and untreated.

"I don't think this is just magically going to go away anytime soon because you have the ramifications of the past year that those teenagers are going to be dealing with for quite a while," he said.

Roxane Wayne is a Methodist Community Counseling Program Therapist who works with students at Omaha North High School. She says a lot of these issues stem from changes in pattern and changes in school.

"Really the biggest challenge working in the school has been really to help incorporate them back into school," she said.

With most Nebraska students back in school, they're hoping children can use school resources to get help.

If you are noticing symptoms of anxiety and depression in your child, experts say talking to them and establishing a set routine may help.

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