Many of us are returning to activities after the pandemic, but the impact of quarantine on mental health can still be felt, especially in our youth. Luckily, the Idaho Youth Ranch wants to help.
Mellisa Paul: Scott, it's always great to see you. And I really want to talk to you about the mental state of our youth right now, because of the pandemic, we all went through a lot, especially our young people. So where are they at right now, when it comes to mental wellness and coming out of the pandemic?
Scott Curtis: Well, thank you for taking the time to do this, because it's so important. We know anecdotally, that a lot of young people struggled in the in the pandemic, we don't have exact data for Idaho. We know some data from the Health Department in Washington, that they said they saw almost a third increase in the number of youth showing up at the emergency room for mental health crises. So we know this has been a challenging time for youth and families.
Mellisa Paul: On the flip side too, I've also heard there are some youth, though, who actually benefited from being at home during the pandemic, why would that be?
Scott Curtis: There are some kids that benefited, we'd have some research on that. So some young people who may have been struggling externally, or just have really good relationships at home, they got to foster those relationships more. And that's what they needed. And they have thrived in that. I know that our therapists have seen with our tele-mental health services, that some of their clients have actually done better in the safety and comfort of their home.
Mellisa Paul: Wow. Okay, but but we can't ignore the fact that there is definitely still a need out there for the youth and for families in general, as we're trying to get back into a whole other transition, right? So for parents that are really trying to find the proper guidance and help their kids down that path of mental wellness out of the pandemic, what can they do give some resources, give some tips?
Scott Curtis: Well, I think one of the things that they really should do is focus on how their patterns have shifted during the pandemic. And it's time to get these kids active, get them out to get them to participate in activities, they should be very careful about noticing the amount of screen time kids are spending the amount of on phone time, you know, virtual school created that need for a lot. And it's time to shift that back. And the other thing I would just say is decades of research all says the same thing. When kids face challenges, the most protective factor is relationships with caring adults. So whatever parents can do to get their kids engaged in activities that expose them to caring adults, whether that's clubs or sports teams, or camps, or a library program, get them active and get them active with adults that they should be involved with.
Mellisa Paul: That positive outlet and protection outside of the household. And for parents that just have that gut feeling, though, that they may need a little more assistance to help their child with the current situation, and maybe they need professional services, where should they go? What should they do?
Scott Curtis: One thing I would say is we have a guide on our website called Relationships in a Time of Recovery. So parents should look at that and see how am I helping my child with their relationships? But if they sense that their child needs more help, like they really think something is wrong, they shouldn't ignore that. They can go to youthranch.org and use some of our resources, reach out to their medical provider, or whatever their regular mental health provider is on the don't ignore the needs of these kids.
Mellisa Paul: And where can people go so they can learn more about the Idaho youth ranch and all the services that you provide?
Scott Curtis: Our information is all at youthranch.org.
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Does Your Child Need Help? https://www.youthranch.org/get-help
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