Mental health and the pandemic
ORLANDO, Florida. – The discussion surrounding mental health has evolved during the pandemic to challenge the stigma associated with seeking help.
On this week’s episode of Getting Better with Kirstin O’Connor, Monica Barreto, PhD, a pediatric psychologist at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, discussed some of the added stressors in 2022, including access to therapists and the increase in the number of Baker Act.
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Barreto said there has been a shift in how many people view mental health during the pandemic.
“I think the biggest thing that’s come out of this mental health crisis, which started yes with the pandemic and has continued, is normalization,” Barreto said.
In a recent News 6 article, data from Arnold Palmer Hospital showed there were 278 Baker Act cases from May 2021 to March 2022.
Barreto said those numbers unfortunately come as no surprise to her. And in many situations, she says, the parents she worked with were shocked to learn that their children were silently suffering from depression and thoughts of self-harm.
Her advice to parents is to not shy away from having direct conversations with children about mental health.
“What I do a lot with parents is let them know it’s okay, and modeling for your child, modeling is about, you know, ‘I’m having a tough day, I’m going to use my skills, I’m going to take a break to go for a walk,” Barreto said.
[VIDEO BELOW: Previous episode of Getting Better | Story continues below]
The whole concept of a “Mental Health Day” is different today than it was in 2019.
“Yeah, it’s normal to talk about these things with kids and teens, but it’s not the norm for some parents and some adults, you know, they’ve come into a space where we haven’t talked about it. “, Barreto said. .
Barreto agreed that the purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month is to remind people that mental health issues should be treated like any other physical health issue. Identifying the problem is the first step, and treatment can be long term.
A final thought from the doctor was to resolve day-to-day issues.
“Finding any support, even if it’s just for someone to listen to you, validate everything you’re going through, and bring you to a space where you can try to solve problems and come up with a plan, even if it’s plan is right, what can you do today?” said Barreto.
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