California Parent Survey Shows Increase in Youth Trauma During Pandemic | Blue Shield of California

Since the start of the pandemic, potentially traumatic experiences are on the rise, especially among children and teenagers. Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative funded a study by the Child Mind Institute to learn more about childhood trauma — and how families deal with it.

There are different types of traumatic experiences. Acute trauma is related to a traumatizing event or experience, such as physical or sexual assault, the death of a family member, or a school shooting. Then there are ongoing traumatic experiences, such as poverty, racism or bullying.

“Trauma-induced anxiety and depression have gotten much worse,” said Dr. Michael Enenbach, clinical director of the Child Mind Institute, which provides mental health services to youth and families. “Not only deceased loved ones of young people, children can also have a traumatic reaction to the news cycle and social media. In addition, many young people have lost their peer support system during the pandemic.”

The Child Mind Institute study, funded by BlueSky, surveyed 4,200 parents of children ages 0-24 across the country in the summer of 2022, including 437 parents in California. Key findings among Californians surveyed include:

  • 48% reported their child experienced increased anxiety during the pandemic
  • 29% reported that their child experienced depression/unusual sadness
  • 28% sought professional help for their children due to trauma-related issues during the pandemic
BlueSky Infographic_Mindfulness 3

In addition to enlisting the support of mental health professionals, parents turned to self-care practices. Three of the most interesting data points in the California study are:

  • 41% of parents did deep breathing exercises with their children
  • 45% practiced mindfulness
  • 86% of parents engaged in self-care reported that breathing exercises were helpful, while 88% said mindfulness was helpful

Practice mindfulness to deal with trauma

Jennifer Christian-Herman, Blue Shield vice president of MindBody Medicine, is happy to see families using these effective coping techniques. She said self-care practices are important in managing stress and trauma response and can be useful tools to enhance psychotherapy and psychiatric treatment.

What is Mindfulness? According to dr. Enenbach, mindfulness is an evidence-based practice that can be part of core treatment. “The goal is to keep yourself in the moment and focus on one thing at a time,” he said. “It’s a way to keep both feet on the ground when there is so much uncertainty in the world.”

Mindfulness can encompass a variety of activities. You may sit down, take a deep breath and notice your breathing, how the air feels on your skin and your feet feel on the floor. It can be a deep concentration while eating, focusing on taste, texture and smell.

“Our minds, thoughts, and interpretation of events can play an important role in our overall health,” says Christian-Herman. “Mindfulness can get you out of your head and into your breath to help process negative experiences. It’s certainly not all you need, but it can help.”

“Most young people will have it negative experiences – that is life – and parents and teachers can teach and model mindfulness as a way to help their children develop lifelong coping skills to process stressors,” she added. “Stress is not all bad. difficult experiences can help a person become more resilient. But how we respond to stress can affect health outcomes. Mindfulness is a tool that can help improve those outcomes.”

When to seek professional help

More and more educators and parents are recognizing the value of mindfulness, and it is being taught in schools and communities to address youth mental health challenges. However, it is critical to know when more help is needed. If parents notice that their child is withdrawn, anxious or has behavioral problems, it is important to open the lines of communication. If symptoms get in the way of a child’s daily life and don’t go away, it’s time to seek professional help.

“Mindfulness can be an important coping tool as part of treatment, but it is not a substitute when a child or teen is struggling with more severe trauma-induced anxiety or depression,” says Christian-Herman.

About BlueSky and Child Mind Institute

The collaboration between Blue Shield of California and Child Mind Institute is part of Blue Shield’s BlueSky Youth Mental Health Initiative. Because the foundations of mental health begin in childhood and play a role in a person’s well-being throughout life, BlueSky partners with leaders across the country to provide youth, parents and educators with tools to promote the emotional well-being of young people. to support.

Learn more in the 2022 Child Mind Institute report, Treating Symptoms of Trauma in Children and Teens. You can find more tips about mindfulness on the website of the Child Mind Institute.

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