WV experts’ mental health issues may spur anxiety in children / Public Information Service

Marking Mental Health Awareness MonthAdvocates have argued that more outreach and services are needed to help West Virginia caregivers with their mental health, which can lead to increased anxiety for children and other difficulties for families.

In addition to May’s focus on mental health, this week also highlights Children’s Mental Health Awarenessemphasizing that positive mental health is essential to the healthy development of a child.

Save the Children, a global non-profit organization, is working to increase mental health programs in the Mountain State.

Erika Blackburn, senior community engagement associate in West Virginia for the group, said more than a third of adults in the state have recently reported persistent anxiety — putting West Virginia in the top three states in the world. countries – children face the same problem in their own lives, as well as in shaping their parents and caregivers.

“A lot of the options that were presented to others across the country during the pandemic were difficult for a lot of our kids because of the lack of connectivity,” Blackburn pointed out. “There are definitely areas where we work in West Virginia that don’t have reliable internet.”

Blackburn said Save the Children’s social and emotional learning program, journey of hopehelps approximately 500 children in 10 West Virginia school districts explore and understand their emotions, develop healthy coping skills, and build resilience to future challenges.

Blackburn added that the COVID pandemic and subsequent disruptions to their normal routine have only exacerbated the mental health issues children are already facing in the state.

“The exposure to a lot of trauma from the opioid crisis, and just being away from their teachers and child-serving professionals who are too often the only source of love and support some kids get. “, pointed out Blackburn.

Greta Wetzel, senior psychosocial support adviser for Save the Children, said the issues West Virginia often faces are the same as those in other large states. rural populations.

“In our rural communities, you might have a county-wide mental health facility that might be an hour’s drive from you, or a social worker that covers the entire school district,” Wetzel pointed out.

Wetzel noted that Journey of Hope programs also offer services to caregivers, explaining that while adults often focus on the needs of children, they need to take time for themselves.

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on children’s issues, early childhood education, education and poverty issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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