Children the world over are experiencing disruptions to their routines with many living through extended periods of isolation and loneliness, disruptions to school and changes in their family’s financial health. And many have lost family members to the virus.

Additional to these challenges, children are also taking on the adult conversations related to the stresses and fears created by the global pandemic.

The impacts of this extended crisis land differently on developing brains; we’re already seeing social and emotional developmental impacts from this prolonged stress.

According to the CDC, mental health-related visits for children ages 5 – 17 years have increased between 24% and 31%. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are likewise on the rise.

Helping kids cope with COVID-19

Talking about feelings is an important way to help children navigate the ongoing pandemic. Kids should be encouraged to take the space and time needed to feel sad about missing events like birthday parties, trips to see family and missing friends.

Creative expression can give your child’s day structure and purpose while also chipping away at boredom and isolation.

Think of ways to get the children in your life writing poems, drawing, painting, taking photos or making movies. Think even of hosting a virtual talent show with other kids they miss seeing.

How are your kids expressing themselves? We’d love to see their art!

submit your kid's art

And be sure to be mindful of indicators of stress, anxiety or depression, which may appear differently for children and teenagers than adults.

Indicators to look out for:

  • Increased sadness, irritability or anger

  • Changes in sleep and eating habits

  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

  • Withdrawing from or avoiding available social interactions

  • Somatic symptoms, such frequent headaches or stomach aches

  • Hurting self, hurting others, talking about death or suicide

  • Poor focus and concentration

  • Large change in mood, behavior or personality

Community Resources

A visit with your child’s primary care provider is a solid starting place. During your child’s regular well-check you can request a check-in with a behavioral health clinician to discuss mental health concerns, coping skills and next steps.

The Center for Mental Health also provides individual and family therapy.

For ongoing therapy, Tri-County Health Network offers no-cost teletherapy to all students within San Miguel County. For youth that would like to help provide support to their peers, Tri-County Health Network offers Mental Health First Aid; upcoming classes. 

It may also be useful to consider gaining additional support from a mentor through One-To-One, or to enroll with True North or the Telluride For Teens program created by Bright Futures, that can help local teens to engage in positive activities within our community, and has developed creative means for connection despite the pandemic.

Bright Futures, a family resource center, has bilingual Family Support Specialists who work one-on-one with families to provide parenting support, ensure essential needs are being met in the home, access resources in the community, and achieve their goals.

Bright Futures also launched a new initiative —  called Telluride for Teens (T4T) — to provide opportunities for teens within the Telluride R-1 School District to connect with healthy activities and hobbies that bring them joy. This T4T program helps teens find avenues to feel good about their life, even during the uncertainty of COVID-19. By acting as a connector and working closely with community partners to provide teens with access to activities and resources, Bright Futures aims to help address some of the challenges and anxiety of current times.  Sign up or find more info here.

Telluride is also lucky to have several fantastic therapists working in private practice who work with children and their families.

In the event of a crisis, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s office can send a trained mental health professional to provide support. Additionally, the Center for Mental Health’s crisis line (at 970-252-6220) can be called at any hour, and their Crisis Walk-in Clinic in Montrose is available for people of all ages to gain more intensive support during a crisis.

This is a challenging time for all of us, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support. I can be reached by calling the Telluride Medical Center at 970-728-3848, or if you are a patient of Telluride Regional Medical Center, by messaging me through the patient portal.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call The Center for Mental Health’s crisis line at 970.252.6220.

Be well,

Lindsay Wright

Lindsay Wright | Behavioral Health
Telluride Medical Center