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Pandemic causes mental health crisis in children

Out of her 25 years of pediatric experience, Dr. Pilar Bradshaw has never seen so many anxious and depressed children.

Posted: Oct 20, 2021 7:07 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- As the pandemic stretches on, there's growing concern about the short and long-term effects it will have on the mental health of children.

Dr. Pilar Bradshaw with Eugene Pediatric Associates told KEZI it's all hands on deck right now as they've treated thousands of children just this year with anxiety and depression.

She said it's overwhelming and sad to see. Even before the pandemic, Lane County was dealing with many children age 11 and up suffering from mental health issues, but when COVID-19 hit, things only got worse, Bradshaw said.

"With intense isolation from the pandemic and now going back to school, we are seeing a literal tsunami of anxious, depressed, sad, and lonely kids flooding into our office," Bradshaw said.

She said out of her 25 years of pediatric experience, she's never seen so many anxious and depressed children.

"They just have so much input from social media, there's so much conflict and hate going around, and they're watching other friends who are struggling with their mental health," Bradshaw said.

Changes in mood, slipping grades, switching friends and interests, and wanting to be alone are all signs of anxiety and depression.
She suggests parents talk to their kids every day to make sure they're OK and look for any clues of behavioral changes. It's also important for children to think positive thoughts.

Bradshaw wants people to be aware of their local resources.

Brooke Doster with the Oregon Family Support Network said Reach Out Oregon is an easy-to-use resource right at your fingertips.

"Families can call when they need someone who has experience to talk to. We offer phone calls, texts, you can chat on the website or join a discussion group," Doster said.

She hopes families will take that initial step and seek the help that could save their child.

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