Signs to watch out for to help children deal with mental health struggles

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — We’re two years into the pandemic where the conversation of mental health has been led to the forefront. Experts say they’ve seen an uptick in depression and anxiety within children and teens.

“In our institution, the need for children to see a therapist or a psychiatrist is not going down,” said Shanda Wells of UW Health.

According to the C.S. Mott Children’s hospital national poll, one in three teen girls and one in five teen boys experiences a new or worsening mental health disorder since the start of the pandemic.

The Milwaukee Medical Examiner told CBS 58 they’ve reported four teen suicide incidents in 2021, saying teen suicide rates in Milwaukee County have actually decreased in the last several years.

Amanda Heins of Rogers Behavioral Health said their other levels of care have seen an increased number of patients.

“The amount of kids that have started to demonstrate symptoms of anxiety has dramatically increased in the past several years,” said Heins.

For this reason, Wells said mental health services and outreach is essential.

“Now we’re really seeing kids struggling more than ever and attention to mental health is really crucial for their development,” said Wells.

Some signs parents can look out for include: sudden behavioral changes, isolation, tearfulness, difficulty sleeping, changes in their grades and social interactions.

Wells said it’s vital for parents to help their kids combat their mental health struggles without a judgmental approach.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “HOPELINE” to 741741.

Other resources include the Milwaukee County Mobile Crisis Team and the Children’s Mobile Crisis Team. For more information on resources Rogers Behavioral Health offers, check out their website here.