Emotional & Mental Wellness Archives - Nemours Blog

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Emotional & Mental Wellness

Depression Screening in Primary Care, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Depression Screening in Primary Care – Why It’s Essential

Rates of mental health concerns among adolescents, including depression and suicidal thoughts, have risen substantially in recent years. Studies have also shown that the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. has disproportionately affected people with low socioeconomic status, as well as Black, Indigenous, and Latino people, all of whom have experienced higher rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. According to suicide.org, about 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood, but only about 30 percent of teens are being treated for their symptoms. Pediatric primary care is an important setting for routine mental health screening among adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends universal screening by primary care providers for all patients 12 years of age and older at their annual well visits. Depression screenings are important because signs can often be missed if they are not obvious to untrained individuals.  Kids who are in distress often […]

Kids and Suicide: Know the Warning Signs and How to Help

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the lives of our children in many ways:  adapting to online learning, navigating the “new normal” when heading back to school, rescheduling and cancelling of school events, and creating feelings of social isolation. These restrictions have negatively influenced some of our kids’ mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among school-age youth. But often it can be prevented, and by knowing the risk factors and signs, it can be a lifesaver. Youth Suicide Statistics: Cause for Concern According to the CDC, during 2020, mental health–related emergency room (ER) visits among adolescents ages 12–17 increased 31% compared to 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, suicide attempts also increased for adolescents, especially girls. Children with mental illness are at a higher risk for suicide. In fact, 9 in 10 teens who take their own lives […]

Anxiety in Kids: Know the Signs

Anxiety in Kids: Know the Signs

While back to school season is usually an exciting time for most students, many kids and teens may also be feeling anxious or worried about what this school year might have in store. For many students, this is the first time they will return to in person learning since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While some may be looking forward to getting back to their normal schedules, there are those who are struggling with returning to school under new conditions.  A lot of kids and teens have struggled with stress and uncertainty over the last year because of the disruptions to “normal” life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While returning to in person learning has many benefits for mental health and well-being, especially increased socializing that is crucial for kids and teens, your child may also have some concerns about heading back to school this year, including: Being behind other classmates […]

All About Animal Therapy

All About Animal Therapy

Besides stealing our hearts by being cute — and in many cases, fluffy — our four-legged friends who are trained as therapy animals have numerous health benefits to offer. Animal assisted therapy is proven to help with both mental and physical conditions. Even healthy people can benefit from animal therapy. Many hospitals offer various animal therapy programs to assist patients in healing. In fact, this is a practice that dates back to the ancient Greeks, who were said to use horses to cheer up patients.   Benefits of Animal Therapy  Animal therapy has physical benefits that include:  Lowering blood pressure  Releasing oxytocin, which has a calming effect   Lessening any physical pain patients have   On top of the physical benefits, animal therapy also has mental health benefits such as:  Decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation  Lowering stress  Providing a sense of comfort  Nemours Children’s Health System offers animal therapy programs at their hospitals in Delaware and Florida as a part of their commitment to caring for the whole child. One program offered in Florida […]

How to Lend an Empathetic Ear

How to Lend an Empathetic Ear

It clearly goes without saying that we are living in challenging times. Everyone is doing the best they can, finding ways to cope and adjust to this so-called “new normal.” But it’s important to remember this:  it’s okay to not be okay. Things are hard, they are different, and everyone processes those hardships and changes in unique ways. One way to cope with a difficult or stressful situation is to speak with someone, to be heard and seen. A listening and non-judgmental ear is often comforting and can be a resource of support without focusing on “fixing” the problem. At Nemours Children’s Health System, we offer the Peer Support Program, which provides confidential, free support to all our associates. By being paired with a peer supporter, the person seeking support can speak with a fellow associate, who understands their work-life, and may relate to what they are going through or […]

Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Your Teen Boys, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Your Teen Boys

For several decades, much of the focus on body image disorders has focused on females. In American society, the feminine ideal is to appear thin. Males, however, are encouraged to be muscular. Lately, we are witnessing a shift in how males perceive their bodies. Boys Feel the Pressure Too Many of today’s young males want a strong body; specifically, they want more muscles. With action figures such as Batman, Captain America, and Superman to magazine covers boasting “Double your muscle!” and “Bigger arms now!” it’s no wonder that teens view being chiseled and ripped as the ideal male body image. It’s one thing to play with an action figure or peruse a magazine, but it’s quite another to think obsessively about becoming muscle-bound and to diet and exercise compulsively to look this way. Sound like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)? Yes. Sound like an eating disorder? Yes. What Is Muscle Dysmorphic […]

The Health Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

The Health Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

In a perfect world, every kid would grow up in a safe, carefree environment. But many kids endure adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). These traumatic events can cause psychological problems and health problems down the road. Upsetting events can affect kids in different ways: One-time events include things such as a car accident or the death of a grandparent. As scary and difficult as these can be, kids usually recover relatively quickly with healthy doses of love, support, and understanding. Ongoing experiences are things that create layer upon layer of trauma, wearing down kids’ resilience. These can include living in a neighborhood with gun violence, sexual abuse, a parent who uses drugs, being bullied at school, and not having enough food. What Problems Can ACEs Cause? Research at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard shows that chronic adverse experiences in childhood may impair brain development. This can have a negative effect […]

Mental Health and Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Meghan Tuohy Walls, PsyD | Promise, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Mental Health and Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Social media is a widespread way for teens and tweens to communicate. A recent survey on teen media use revealed that 39% of teens prefer Snapchat as their preferred social media channel, with Instagram a close second at 23%. Teens are spending more and more time being inundated with images, ads, and thoughts from not only their peers, but celebrities and other teens they may not even know. Social media surely has its positive aspects. There’s no doubt it has helped raise money for good causes, and makes connecting easier. But teens and tweens can fall into traps that bring out the negatives of scrolling through pictures on Instagram or watching Snapchat stories. As we close out Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s take a look at how social media impacts kids’ mental health. Studies Show… The Royal Society for Public Health, based in the United Kingdom, looked at social media and […]

Kids Stressed?: 16 Tips (for You and Them) That May Help, by Michelle Karten, MD, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Kids Stressed?: 16 Tips (for You and Them)

As adults, we’ve all had to handle some amount of stress in our lives. Stress is our body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness. But we often believe kids are happy and carefree – that their lives are simpler than ours. We find ourselves telling them how much harder it will be when they grow up and face the “real world.” The reality is, though, kids are facing their own “real world” every day. Stressors for kids can include issues with family or friends, ongoing challenges with school, or crammed schedules that don’t allow any downtime. And while they may not initiate a conversation about what’s bothering them, kids do want their parents to reach out and help them cope with their troubles. Signs and Symptoms For kids with chronic conditions like migraines or sickle cell […]

Afraid preschooler curled up in chair shows impact of anxiety in young kids

Anxiety in Young Kids: 4 Ways to Help

Many parents wonder: “Is my child’s anxiety normal? Should I be worried?” While anxiety in young kids can be nerve-wracking for parents, it has a lot to do with age and development. Anxiety about a certain trigger can be completely appropriate at one stage and inappropriate at another. For example, it’s entirely normal for children up to age 2 to have some degree of separation anxiety, but we hope that kids are able to separate without too many tears around ages 3 or 4. Being worried about dogs, bees, storms and sudden loud noises is totally understandable for 3- and 4-year-olds because they’re starting to understand that the world can be scary sometimes. It’s also expected that kids of this age will go through a phase when they’re exercising mastery of their environment – when it’s “my way or the highway,” which can often be mistaken for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For […]

Trees of Tranquility: Artwork With a Purpose

A hospital stay can be a challenging experience for patients and their families. For children used to the comforts of their home and bedroom, the environment in a hospital can feel strange or foreign. Often, the arts can help make time in the hospital less stressful. So the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children’s Creative Arts Therapy team developed an Arts in Medicine program as a way to help patients and families feel more at ease while they visit and/or stay at the hospital. This spring, the Arts in Medicine program welcomed visiting artist Catherine Czerwinski to work with patients and families in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Catherine’s project focused on the installation of a mural in the PICU solarium. The mural project was inspired by the experiences of patients, families and staff from the PICU. Together, they were involved in the creation of the mural. The process […]

Suicide Rates Rising, Especially Among Young Girls

This post was originally published in the Wilmington News Journal and DelawareOnline. Suicide. It’s a troubling topic, a hugely difficult conversation, a “that could never happen to my child” pronouncement. But with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announcing that suicide rates in the U.S. are steadily on the rise, the time is now to confront this issue with your family — especially with your preteens and teenagers. The CDC reports that from 1999 through 2014, suicide rates have increased for both males and females and for all ages 10–74. While this is concerning news, perhaps most troubling is the fact that the suicide rate among girls aged 10–14 tripled during this time frame and had the largest percent increase (200 percent). And although suicide is relatively rare among children, it is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 10–24, after accidents and homicide. Who’s at Risk? […]

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