MACON, Ga. — In our new series ‘Mental Health Mondays,’ we want to remind you that you’re not fighting your battles alone. The pandemic has been tough on adults and children alike.
The #1 goal for the Peach County School District is putting mental health at the top of the list. They've seen many cases of anxiety and depression in kids of all ages.
Laney Hamilton is a sophomore and says it was tough getting through the pandemic.
"It was very overwhelming, because it went from 0 to 100 real quick, like overnight," said Hamilton. "We were going to school everyday, and then all of a sudden we weren't going at all."
Laney says the uncertainty of it all led to her feeling things she's never felt before.
"It definitely gave me more anxiety about school than I have now and before the pandemic," she said.
Josie Allen, a counselor at Kay Road Elementary School, says these are not abnormal feelings. She's even seen her elementary-aged kids show signs of anxiety and depression.
"They may have stomachaches, they may constantly have headaches, they have to leave the classroom, they need frequent bathroom breaks -- those are the things we're looking at. We see that they don't want to be around their peers, they don't want to come in the school building," said Allen.
She says a lot of these behaviors stem from the stress of isolation, maybe a parent losing their job, or even the loss of a loved one.
"Our little kids have big problems. I try to assist them with understanding how to cope with the issues," said Allen.
Kevin Johnson, a mental health counselor with the district, has some suggestions.
"One is for society as a whole: Parents, teachers, community, we must demonstrate and model that mental health is important. We must remove that stigma and allow mental health to be as calming as physical [health]," said Johnson.
As for students...
"Find what makes you happy. If it's a song, if it's journaling, getting outside, or exercising," said Johnson.
He says other tips include counting to 10 when you get worked up, talking it out or writing down your feelings, and even just taking a few deep breaths.
Laney says she's still adjusting, but these tips have helped her get over the hump.
Other tips for children who are dealing with tough times include: movement -- whether you're working out or going on a walk for some fresh air -- making time for play, and talking openly about your feelings.
Incorporating these tips into your daily routine should make things feel a little less heavy.