Social determinants of health
Remember to ask about changes in the family household during the last year. It may help identify the need for resources or interventions. Has there been a change in employment? Are parents having difficulty with food insecurity or housing issues? Food Insecurity has been linked with maternal depression, child behavior problems, and childhood depression and anxiety. Given the primarily virtual world we live in, families with difficulty connecting to the internet may experience higher levels of stress and isolation. Their children may have trouble participating in online learning or telehealth visits.
Parent/ Caregiver well-being
If possible, ask parents about their own mental health. Those who address their emotional well-being improve their ability to parent and care for their families. Consider assessing for depression, anxiety, domestic violence, and substance issues. According to a poll of adults 21 and over, 23% are consuming alcohol to cope with pandemic related stress. In those adults with children under the age of seven, stress related consumption rose to 52%. Additionally, overburdened families are at the highest risk for episodes of domestic violence.
Barriers to access
Talk to parents and caregivers about their ability to access services. Are there transportation or childcare issues? Children with special health care or mental health needs often depend on routinely scheduled therapies and professionals to support growth and well-being. Primary care providers are powerful advocates for their patients and may be able to assist families with securing needed services.
- Learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on pediatric mental health through a free one-hour CME webinar featuring Illinois DocAssist consultant, Elizabeth Charney, MD.
- Visit the Illinois DocAssist website for updated resources on supporting children and families during re-opening and vaccination for COVID-19.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics updated an algorithm for integrating mental healthcare into the pediatric practice and provide information for providers on the common factor approach using the HELP acronym. Access the article here for more information.
- Illinois-strong.org offers free crisis counseling for individuals struggling with the pandemic in Cook, Winnebago and St. Clair counties.
Leeb RT, Bitsko RH, Radhakrishnan L, Martinez P, Njai R, Holland KM. Mental Health–Related Emergency Department Visits Among Children Aged <18 Years During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, January 1–October 17, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1675–1680. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6945a3