#Next20: Our children’s mental health

By: Raquel Wilson

Expert advice on how to navigate difficult times.

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Unprecedented — a word that’s become all too familiar after navigating uncharted terrain over the past year. From the global pandemic to heightened calls for racial and social justice to the recent attack at the U.S. Capitol building, recent events have tested the resiliency of our mental health.

For parents and guardians, there’s the dual stress of caring for themselves and their children. Dr. Rachel Busman, Senior Director of Anxiety Disorders at the Child Mind Institute, and Dr. Shairi Turner, Chief Transformation Officer of the Crisis Text Line, joined Up to Speed’s Diana Alvear for a special edition of #Next20 to share ways families can positively impact their children’s mental health during difficult times.

What are children experiencing during these times?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from April through October, mental health visits to pediatric emergency departments jumped 24 percent for kids ages five to 11 and 31 percent for kids 12 to 17. These striking statistics illustrate the emotional toll recent events have had on children.

Both Dr. Busman and Dr. Turner shared that many children have expressed concerns of anxiety, school-related difficulties, isolation, depression and grief over the past year.

“What I have parents pay attention to are persistent changes,” says Dr. Busman. If you see changes in your children that are different from their baseline personality, it may be a sign that your child is struggling with their mental health. While we are in an adapted world for COVID-19, there are still opportunities to seek care with telehealth and crisis text lines.

What can parents and families do?

Parents are facing a unique challenge — nurturing their own mental health while supporting their children. Dr. Busman and Dr. Turner shared actionable tips for how parents can guide their children in times of uncertainty.

  • What can I do today? Focus on what you can control instead of the uncontrollable, which can lead to more anxiety. Take time for meditation and mindfulness.
  • Taking action can help with a sense of control: Find ways to help in an area that interests you. Our Citizen Verizon program offers opportunities to give back and take action during this time, including becoming a volunteer counselor for the Crisis Text Line. Giving back also shows your children that we can turn frustration and even fear into action in productive ways.
  • Keep a dialog open with our kids: Allow your children to react and process before you add your own perceptions or experiences.
  • Showing fear and vulnerability can be empowering to children: As a parent it’s human nature to hide your fear from your children. However, you can strike a balance by encouraging honest dialog that helps your children express how they are feeling.

If you are struggling, there are resources for you:

U.S. EAP: 888-441-8674 or anthem.com/eap/verizon.

International EAP: Use the list of toll-free phone numbers for each country or anthem.com/eap/global/verizon

Counselors are available to help. Information discussed with EAP counselors is never shared with anyone and is 100% confidential. This is a free employee benefit, giving access to up to five free sessions per year.

Verizon Resilience Toolkit: offers an abundance of tools and resources to assist employees and their families with mental health, suicide prevention and other life issues. There’s also resources for people leaders. International and U.S. Resilience Toolkits are available on About You.

ADVANCE Employee Resource Group (ERG) - The Advocates for Disability, Accessibility, Neurodiversity, and Caregiver Empowerment ERG provides peer support and resources for people with disabilities and neurodivergences, people experiencing mental health issues, caregivers, and accessibility advocates.

Need to catch up on #Next20?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the latest episodes:

Episode 1: Criminal Justice Reform
Episode 2: Making Every Vote Count
Episode 3: American History 101
Episode 4: Reimagining Small Businesses during COVID-19
Episode 5: We Have a Dream
Episode 6: Born Digital
Episode 7: Disability+Race
Episode 8: Climate Action
Episode 9: 9 that moved us

About the author(s):

Raquel Wilson is a former adfellow and now on her way to becoming a communications pro. You can always rely on her to have a good book recommendation and a latte she probably paid way too much for.

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