PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — With many high school and college sports on hold once again because of the pandemic, now is the time to check in with your student-athlete to see how they are doing mentally. WAVY.com spoke with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, who says it is imperative to recognize the signs that your child may need help.
“So many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression, for example, mental illness, are fostered by COVID. They’re put in place by COVID,” says Dr. Andrea Arcona.
She says one of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for is your child withdrawing from their social network.
“Be looking for kids who are not able to reach out. Who are not reaching out as much and to reach out for them, and I think that’s a really important thing that kids can do for their peers. We want to be sure to not put responsibility for other kids’ mental health on adolescents, but it’s certainly appropriate to encourage them to reach out and pull people in who are struggling.”
Dr. Arcona says if your child no longer finds enjoyment in things they used to enjoy, that is another sign he or she may be struggling. Also remember student-athletes are used to stringent schedules when it comes to training, school, practice, and games. Dr. Arcona says kids having no schedule can lead to depression.
“Sleeping more, gaining weight, losing weight, all of those are affected by not having regular activity and regular, planned out exercise.”
Dr. Arcona wants you to feel empowered to help your kids.
“Not only to help them focus on the coping, but to really validate the stress they are feeling. It is a big deal to lose your high school season and, as adults, we know that there are bigger things, and we know that things could be worse, and we know that things might get worse, but as kids it almost doesn’t matter. It’s such a huge, important part of their lives.”
Dr. Arcona participated in a forum at the end of October created by the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and several other local organizations that focused on the mental wellness of student athletes. To watch that forum, and share it with your children, click here.