(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Wednesday, those in the field of health care and education came together for a behavior health summit at Empower U to discuss the rise in mental health issues put on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Mosaic Life Care presented the summit.
Area nurses, social workers, teachers and professors were in attendance in hopes to gain the necessary skills and tools to address the growing need for mental health resources as life continues moving forward alongside the virus.
“We’re still struggling with a lot of mental health issues, particularly in young people,” said Dr. Jackie Kibler, Motivational speaker and Associate Psychology Professor at Northwest Missouri State University.
Mental Health experts said isolation, fear and stress put on by the virus has taken a toll on children's mental well-being.
Adriana Nabors, VP of Operations for Mosaic Life Care, said the hospital has started to see toddlers being medically admitted.
“It’s really shown in our volumes and our presentation into our emergency department. We’re seeing kids as young as 2 and 3-years-old with mental health issues,” said Nabors.
During the summit, Dr. Kibler shared that global research conducted throughout the pandemic shows 1 in 4 young people are struggling with feelings of clinical depression or anxiety.
The NWMSU professor said the pandemic has simply heightened those numbers of kids facing mental wellness issues.
Mental health experts said children have been stripped of their social skills this past year due to the pandemic as their daily routines were disrupted.
As kids return to school, Dr. Kibler reminds teachers and parents to listen to their child's concerns.
“Kids don’t often have the skills to tell us what’s wrong, so engage in activities that allow them to open up. Usually, those activities are active like going for a walk or going for a drive with them to allow them those opportunities to talk with us," said Dr. Kibler.
Mosaic said the summit was an opportunity for collaboration amongst those on the front line of the mental health crisis to workshop different ways to better cope with the ever changing world.
“I hope that everyone who comes today leaves today with a better set of skills to cope more effectively with the stressors of COVID, with the return (of school) and a lot of the uncertainty that we’re still facing, so that they can cope more effectively themselves so they can help others,” said Nabors.