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You Ask. We Answer. | How can parents help children struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic?

Connecticut Children's has seen an increase in the number of children suffering from eating disorders, suicide attempts and other mental health problems.

HARTFORD, Conn. — The mental health impacts of the pandemic have taken their toll on children.

During the pandemic, doctors at Connecticut Children’s say they have seen children suffering from issues ranging from eating disorders to suicide attempts, and they are working to help those children during what has been a very difficult time and what will be a tough time going forward.

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"We know from research that the mental health aspect of this is going to last for a whole lot longer," said Dr. Melissa Santos, Division Chief of Pediatric Psychology, Connecticut Children’s. "We have that research from 9/11, from Superstorm Sandy, and that was pretty local, targeted events. This is really a global thing that has impacted so many people."

Dr. Santos said one good thing to come out of the pandemic: people talking about mental health in a way they haven’t before. 

FOX61 asked, "What can parents and caregivers do to make sure they are helping children through this difficult time?"

"I think it’s so critical when we talk about it, is that we really need to treat the whole child," said Dr. Santos. "The mental health aspect of the child can’t be something separate. We really need to, like we check in, do you have pain, have you been drinking your water, how’s your sleep, we really need to bring mood and behavior as part of that and normalize there’s going to be variations of that."

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Parents know their children best, Dr. Santos added. They will know when their child is different than before and that’s when parents should be talking to their children or getting a medical provider involved.

She also reminded parents that children watch them to see how they are handling things, so they should model the behavior they want their children to follow.

Amanda Raus is an anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at araus@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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