‘These children are experiencing symptoms similar to trauma’: Doctors say kids are experiencing pandemic stress

Pandemic kid stress
Childhood stress during COVID-19

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The pandemic has affected not just physical health, but mental health too especially with kids.

From 3-year-olds to seniors in high school, the pandemic is affecting their mental state. Kootenai Health says it has seen an uptick of children in its psychiatric unit. Health experts say it can all be prevented.

Tanya Heidenreich, a psychiatric nurse at Kootenai Health, commented on why parents need to be aware of what’s happening.

“They depend on us to protect them,” she said. “They are our most vulnerable. These children are experiencing symptoms similar to trauma. They’ve gone under 18 months of a community in angst, getting conflicting information.”

She said  services for kids such as occupational therapy or speech therapy being paused and even the stress of seeing their teacher get sick have been adding even more to the problem

“Therefore we are seeing an uptick in inpatient hospitalizations in the psychiatric unit that could be prevented if these children were able to seek or obtain their outpatient services,” Heidenreich said.

She believes it’s going to get worse.

“So, what our children take our cues from their parents. If parents are able to demonstrate a healthy, protective response, the child will feel protected,” she said.

Kootenai Health is preparing for a pediatric COVID surge. They’ve always had a lack of pediatric psychiatric beds but they say now it’s even worse.

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