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COVID-19 impacting mental health in kids

Changes Mental Health, a Lafayette-based children's mental health program is seeing a shift in its patients.

Posted: Jun 8, 2020 8:08 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A Lafayette-based children's mental health program is seeing a shift in its patients.

Changes Mental Health workers are finding more kids struggling with depression and anxiety. It is believed to be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The things we normally treat was amplified by the uncertainty of this pandemic," said Timothy Poquette, Changes nurse practitioner. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt shift to many lives this year. Workers now having to work from home, friends, and family having to find ways to connect at a distance, and kids having to finish the school year online. Poquette said since then, they've noticed a shift in behavior.

"It was a difficult transition for a lot of the kids and so we've seen an increase in behaviors, an increase in anxieties and depression," said Poquette.

Changes Director, Dana Reichert said for some kids symptoms of depression and anxiety include more lashing out, yelling, and an overall lack of communication skills. For others, it's more subtle.

"They'll be more in their bedrooms, they won't be talking to their parents as much, they won't be talking to their friends as much and that can be sad for kids," said Reichert.

Reichert said one solution is for parents to be proactive during this pandemic.

"We always try to get kids into treatment early because if they can get treatment early than it's less likely that they're going to have these severe problems later on in life," said Reichert.

Changes is a branch of Sycamore Springs that serves kids ages eight to 18. Nurses mainly work on helping kids develop and manage their communication skills.

"Therapists teach kids, train kids how to use different skills to help manage depression, help communicate what they're feeling, help manage what they're feeling," said Reichert. "They learn anger management skills while they're here they practice all of these skills."

Reichert said even while there's no clear end time for the pandemic, they're working toward building a better future.

"The children are our future so if we can help them now then our future will be brighter," said Reichert.

Changes launched in Lafayette in 2018. It's the only mental health facility just for children in our viewing area. If you're in need of its services you can find that information here.

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