Pressures of pandemic, poverty impact kids' mental health

Pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic are trickling down to kids.

In March, Wisconsin health officials are bringing problems to the forefront as poverty proves detrimental to children's overall well-being. It's a critical call to action to stop the cycle so kids can have better quality and length of life. 

"In terms of poverty, we know that it is increasing," Linda Hall said.

Hall, director of Wisconsin's Office of Children's Mental Health (OCMH), said many people are sheltered by the struggles of Black and brown families. 

"We have the largest gap between Black and white children in terms of poverty, median income and labor force participation," said Hall. 

Linda Hall

Adding the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. This month, OCMH is bringing attention and awareness.

"Important issues right now are poverty-related to children, as well as their mental health because of the concerns of the pressures on them with social isolation and extra stress on them, because of the extra stress on their families, because of the pandemic," Hall said.

Office of Children's Mental Health (OCMH)

Sharing fact sheets, officials are looking into supporting children's well-being through eliminating childhood poverty -- identifying what policymakers, schools, parents and communities can do to make a difference.

"One thing that parents can do is really focus on supporting their kids to get through school, that education, and staying engaged with school is critical for kids staying on track and not getting into drugs and other problems," Hall said.

"Communities can look at ways to make child care and transportation to jobs easier. Eliminate the barriers that families have and policymakers can look at ways to increase support to families who have children."

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Providing access to mental health services can add to the need for a unified effort helping with basic needs.

"It’s imperative for us to pay attention to this," said Hall.

View the OCMH fact sheet below, or visit children.wi.gov.

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