KCUR: As The Coronavirus Disrupts Another School Year, Kansas City Parents Worry About Their Kids' Mental Health
By Elle Moxley
During lockdown this spring, Melissa Duffett got a phone call that no parent wants to get: her 14-year-old son was on his way to the emergency room.
“He was at his dad’s, and it was Friday night, and he had threatened suicide via Snapchat,” Duffett said. “One of his friends had gotten very concerned and told her mom, and they called the police.”
Duffett’s son had been out of school for about five weeks at that point (KCUR is not naming him to protect his privacy). She knew he missed his friends, but she and his father didn’t realize how much their son was struggling.
“I’ve been teaching middle school for 23 years, so I’ve learned how to speak teenager fluently,” Duffett said. “But we did not know. It came out of the blue. He told us once it all came out he just had been feeling not great for about a year.”
A lot of kids are experiencing anxiety and depression stemming from social isolation right now. It’s one of the reasons why pediatricians have recommended that students return to school this fall with precautions.
Reopening schools won’t be easy. As pandemic conditions worsen in Kansas City, many districts are scrapping their plans for in-person learning, preparing instead to start the school year online.
Gail Robertson, a clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital, said families are making decisions based on calculations that might not make sense to someone else.
“I think some families are feeling a lot of shame with the decisions that they're making, and we all need to understand that this is a completely new world for most of us,” Robertson said.
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