BABER: The mental health impact of lockdown on Ontario’s youth

Author of the article:Roman BaberPublishing date:Jan 28, 2021  •  1 hour ago  •  2 minute read

York Centre MPP Roman Baber. PHOTO BY ROMAN BABER /Twitter

Let’s talk. Let’s talk about kids’ mental health.

I hear from many parents that school closures and the inability to lead a normal life have caused their children to develop anxiety. Several parents have told me that they don’t recognize or are estranged from their children. Some parents are also concerned about trauma induced by lockdown or PTSD.

The toll on children’s mental health is compounded by the abject failure of distance learning. Children are desperately missing in-person interaction with their friends. They cannot sit in front of a computer screen for six hours a day. Parents do not substitute the role of educators. Teachers who are also parents of current students are struggling to balance their virtual class with the daily needs of their own children.

Frustration is boiling over while our kids are regressing by the day.

In early December 2020, Sick Kids hospital released preliminary findings of its own study, conducted by four leading child mental health research teams. The study examined how the spring lockdown affected the mental health and well-being of children and families. According to preliminary findings, during the spring lockdown 70% of children and youth reported worse mental health. “Greater stress from social isolation was the most significant risk factor for worse mental health.”

In a Jan. 25, 2021, news release, the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario expressed strong support for reopening of schools as soon as possible. The Pediatricians Alliance wrote that “school closures are having a major and immediate effect on the emotional functioning and physical health of children and families.”

“Pediatricians are seeing a sharp increase in suicidal attempts, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, overdoses, eating disorders, obesity, and late presentation of a host of medical conditions in patients,” the Pediatricians Alliance wrote.

Not a single child died in the province of Ontario from COVID-19. Not one. Yet we are scaring children into believing that coming in close proximity to another child may result in death. Two weeks ago, I wrote to Premier Doug Ford that this generation of children may be afraid of normal life. We should stop this. Government, educators and parents must make every attempt to refrain from scaring children.

Worse, the lockdown is causing children an untold health and mental health catastrophe. The crisis is in long-term care and retirement homes, not schools. We must let kids be kids again. They need to be back in school, learning, socializing, active and unafraid.

Nothing else will do — we need to immediately reopen Ontario’s schools.

— Roman Baber is an Independent Member of Provincial Parliament for York Centre.

BABER: The mental health impact of lockdown on Ontario’s youth | Toronto Sun

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