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KPBS Midday Edition

Pandemic's impact on mental health of parents

Mayumi Nara and her son Yuki play at the Allied Gardens Park on Dec. 15, 2020.
Erik Anderson
Mayumi Nara and her son Yuki play at the Allied Gardens Park on Dec. 15, 2020.

The U.S. Surgeon General issued a public health advisory earlier this month on children’s mental health and how COVID-19 pandemic-hardships have played a role in the emerging crisis. The advisory highlighted the increased rate of depression and anxiety being diagnosed in children.

Experts say the changes the pandemic has brought upon families, like schools going back and forth between virtual and in-person learning, extracurricular activities being canceled and much more, have impacted children's behavior and mental health. Experts say the recent change in routine for families due to the pandemic can also affect parents' mental health, while they try to juggle work and keep their home life afloat, and keep their children healthy.

RELATED: US Surgeon General issues public health advisory on youth mental health crisis

Dr. Jenny Yip, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine at USC, founder of Renewed Freedom Center and parenting expert joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about how all these changes and pandemic stressors have impacted the mental health of parents.

Dr. Yip said more parents have been reporting mental and physical health declines since the start of the pandemic.

"We have been inundated with more patients than what we can handle, and I'm sure this is true for all mental health professionals in the entire country, or even perhaps the world," Dr. Yip said. "Anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation are all skyrocketing for both parents and children alike."

Dr. Yip said pandemic stressors can have a different impact on parents with younger children, versus parents with teens and young adults.

"For families with younger children, the stressors surround more of juggling multiple tasks and trying to keep your screaming children in front of a computer for eight hours a day, while you're trying to run errands, get household tasks done and perhaps even continue working from home," Dr. Yip said. "Now that's different than parents with older children, where some of the complaints that we've been getting at the Renewed Freedom Center from these families is that they cannot get their kids to practice safety protocols, such as wearing masks or limiting social engagements, keeping a distance, or not being indoors so much."

She said although these struggles are a constant battle, the important thing is to find creative ways to tackle the problems.

"Maybe for the older children it's asking your kids to find three friends that they trust, and these are the three friends that they maintain the social engagements with," Dr. Yip said. "Then for the younger families, it might be sharing some of these tasks with other families who are in a similar situation."

Dr. Yip said the most important thing to consider is self-care, and if you still feel overwhelmed after trying self-care routines on your own, look for additional help. She said additional help could be family members, friends or professional help.

Some of the resources that Dr. Yip recommended are the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and the International OCD Foundation.

If you're looking for self-care tips for parents, PBS also has a self-care list to guide you.