Pandemic's impact on mental health of parents
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The us 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 is a call to shift parenting and underscores the increased rate of depression and anxiety being diagnosed in children. We've seen schools go back and forth between virtual and in-person learning child mask requirements, extracurricular activities canceled and much more during this pandemic. So how has all of this change in routine affected parents while trying to juggle work and keep their home life afloat and children healthy. Joining me to tell about how all these changes and pandemic stressors have impacted the mental health of parents as parenting expert. Dr. Jenny yip, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the ke school of medicine at USC. She is also the founder of renewed freedom center. Dr. Yip.
Speaker 2: (00:58)
Welcome. Thanks so much for having me Jade. So
Speaker 1: (01:01)
What, what are you seeing in your clinic? I mean, have more parents reported mental and physical health declines since the start of this pandemic?
Speaker 2: (01:09)
Absolutely. Both parents and children alike. 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 a entire country, or even perhaps the world, but yes, anxiety, depression, suicide though. Ideation are all skyrocketing for both parents and children alike.
Speaker 1: (01:33)
So has the approach to addressing those issues changed during this pandemic?
Speaker 2: (01:38)
Well, the treatment hasn't changed, the treatment is still this same. I think what has changed is helping parents navigate the stressors from the pandemic and helping them to regain some level of sanity with all of the uncertainties that exist in the world. So what
Speaker 1: (01:57)
Are some of the negative impacts the pandemic has had on parents over the past two years?
Speaker 2: (02:03)
Oh my well , I am a parent myself, so I certainly know what that is like and not knowing how to handle the, the stressors on school's closing or your children being ill and infected or not having the social opportunities that they would have at school. And then most importantly, it's juggling your children being at home, trying to get them on, you know, zoom classes, which doesn't help very much. And isn't a very effective, it is a huge challenge and most parents they're still working and they're working from home. So imagine trying to do this a again, after having been through this for the last, uh, 20 months, it's definitely a struggle.
Speaker 1: (02:50)
How have pandemic stressors had a different impact on parents with younger children versus parents with teens and young adults? For example,
Speaker 2: (02:59)
There's definitely different stressors for families with younger children versus those with teenagers or older children, for families with younger children, you know, the stressors surrounds more of juggling, 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, uh, perhaps even continue working from home. And that juggle adds a huge stressor because it limits your available time to attend to the things that you need to get done. Now that's, uh, 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
Speaker 1: (03:49)
Such as wearing masks or limiting social engagements or keeping, you know, a distance, um, not being indoors so much. Um, so it's a constant battle and the stressors are different, but the more important thing is being able to find creative ways to tackle these problems. So maybe for the older children, it's, you know, asking your, your kids to find three friends that they trust. And these are the three friends that, that they maintain the social engagements with. And then for the younger families, um, it might be sharing some of these tasks with other families who are in a similar situation. So perhaps one family, you know, gets all the kids together for zoom class, uh, one day and we switch and what are resources you can give to help parents feeling overwhelmed during these times?
Speaker 2: (04:45)
The most important thing is self care. I know this is a huge topic in the last 20 months though, when you are experiencing this high level of stress for such a prolonged period of time, it is so easy to burn and out. So taking the little things that matter whether it is, you know, taking a bath or even giving yourself five minutes to just breathe, just finding those little things that you can do to get a breather. And then if you really feel like you are breaking apart, you feel like, know you're at your ins of what you have available. You don't have any more bandwidth available, then perhaps it's time to find additional help. Now additional help could be family members. It could be friends, um, but it could also be professional help. So, you know, finding a therapist and making sure that the therapist that you find is, is someone who has dealt with anxiety or depression. So some resources I direct parents to is the anxiety and depression association of America. I also direct parents to the international OCD foundation because during the pandemic, the rates of obsessive compulsive disorder has just magnified and has become a lot more, uh, excessive. So those are the two resources that I always direct parents to.
Speaker 1: (06:13)
I've been speaking with Dr. G yip and assisted and clinical professor of psychiatry at the ke school of medicine at USC. Also founder of renewed freedom center. She is a parenting expert doctor. Yip. Thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 2: (06:29)
Thanks for having me.
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.
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.
If you're looking for self-care tips for parents, PBS also has a self-care list to guide you.