The past year has been rough on our kids. Social isolation, virtual learning, missing celebrations and milestone events has been as upsetting and stressful for them as it has for adults. Here’s what experts recommend for helping children cope and when to seek professional help.
Talk about big emotions.
Emotions such as grief, worry, stress and anger can be hard for little ones to process. Help them put their feelings into words. Begin by saying something like, “COVID is a new disease. It can be confusing and scary, but I can answer your questions about it.” Then ask, “What scares you the most about COVID?” This can help start the conversation while promoting a sense of safety.
Mental illness in children is an existing problem.
It is important to remember that children really CAN have mental health disorders. According to the American Psychological Association, half of all cases of mental illness start by age 14. Mental health issues can result from trauma, changes in environment or a major life event. These can all cause intense feelings of fear, grief or loss. Mental illness is not always life threatening, but you should address it quickly.
Know the signs of a mental illness.
General fears and worries are normal in children. However, if they do not outgrow their fears, or if their feelings start to interfere with school, social or home routines, they may need additional help. Luckily, these mental health issues can be treated. If you decide to seek help for your child, be sure to have them evaluated by a healthcare professional first.
If you would like to speak to an expert, look into child psychologists.
Child psychology is a specific field of study, and plenty of experts are out there. There are child therapists who specialize in specific issues like anxiety, bedwetting, OCD and overcoming social barriers. Start by asking for recommendations from your child’s school or pediatrician, your own general physician or community health centers. Also, be sure to check with your health insurance provider to find a list of covered therapists in your area. When you find a therapist, ask them if they have experience working with children and if they are licensed.
Mental Health Parity Act
For plans including mental health benefits that are subject to Mental Health Parity, QualChoice follows the final rules of the Mental Health Parity Act, issued on November 8, 2013.
The act ensures that for these plans, coverage for mental health or substance use disorder is comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care. Some of the benefit areas that must be equal are:
- Financial, such as deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket limits
- Treatment, such as the number of days or visits covered
- Care management, such as being required to get pre-authorization
Check your official plan documents to see if your plan includes mental health benefits.
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