The Register-Guard is making this daily update related to the coronavirus free to read. To support important local journalism like this, please consider becoming a digital subscriber.
When young people look back at the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be remembered as a watershed moment — a “before” and “after” picture of how they lived their lives.
When my patients talk to me about the pandemic’s impact on them, it is clear that this has been a time of great stress, as well as learning about what is truly important, facing concerns about health and adapting to their new reality.
The last couple of years have been painful, particularly for our children and teens. During this critical time in their lives, they should be exploring, getting messy and discovering who they are. Instead, all too often they are experiencing toxic stress, loneliness and disruption of routines. An added strain has been the uncertainty and duration of the pandemic. But there is hope and healing as we enter this new phase in the pandemic.
Understanding our children’s mental health challenges gives us an opportunity to have a positive impact. My father is an example of that hope. He grew up in an orphanage during the Great Depression and World War II fending for himself until a teacher gave him encouragement. That small spark showed him that he was worthy; changing the path his life would take.
More:Prevention: Signs to spot eating disorders and unhealthy relationship with food
If you see a young person struggling, be that person who reaches out and cares. Be present and curious. Never underestimate the power of your smile, a kind word and compassion. These tools can be the best medicine and can change the course of a life.
By coming together to support our children and teens, we can create a brighter future for them. Our children’s futures, as well as our own, depend on coping with the disruptions caused by this pandemic, and whatever support we give to our young people will also be helpful to us adults. Eventually, when we look back at this period, we’ll want to be able to say that we took care of each other. I know that we have the strength, resilience and resourcefulness needed.
At times, despite our best efforts, our children and teens may be in trouble. If you see warning signs such as them pulling away and expressing hopelessness, contact your primary care provider or local crisis support immediately:
- Mental Health First Aid – mentalhealthfirstaid.org and bit.ly/3BSjApw – courses for both adults and teens that teach skills related to mental health and substance-use challenges.
- 211info.org – an online resource for connecting with healthcare and social service organizations
Check out these resources, too:
- White Bird Crisis Intervention (541) 687‐4000
- Looking Glass Youth & Family Crisis (541) 689‐3111
- Mental Health Crisis Response Program (888) 989‐9990
- South Lane Mental Health Crisis Counsel (541) 942‐3939
- PeaceHealth Emergency Department (458) 209‐5555
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741
We are all learning how to pace ourselves to forge ahead. We can do this – together.
Mary Loeb, M.D., M.P.H, practices family medicine at Kaiser Permanente’s Chase Gardens Medical Office. More information is at kp.org/lane.