Increase in the number of children hospitalized for mental health problems
The Royal Children’s Hospital has seen an increase in admissions of children with mental health problems, according to the director of mental health, Dr Ric Haslam.
“The types of conditions we see at Royal Children’s Hospital are anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicidal behavior and eating disorders,” he said.
“We have also seen an increase in the number of young people exhibiting assault, both verbal and physical.
“And often these are children who might have developmental difficulties such as autism spectrum disorder.”
The increase comes as Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced yesterday that Melbourne is set to remain stranded for more weeks, with schools in Melbourne to remain closed until at least the fourth quarter.
Victoria’s chief psychiatrist Dr Neil Coventry today offered advice to individuals and families battling the lockdown.
“It’s a very uncertain situation we find ourselves living in,” he said.
“I want to make sure that we really think about the impact this has.
“I also want to point out that there are a few simple things parents can do to try and help their children recover.”
Dr Coventry advised families to maintain normal routines, especially families who do home schooling.
“Get that balance of studying, relaxing downtime, chill out time, definitely exercise, and meal plans,” he said.
“But also more importantly, around sleep patterns, especially for our vulnerable teens.”
The psychiatrist said the most important thing he wanted to stress was that people talk to children about how they are doing and have honest conversations.
“Please contact your kids. Don’t be anxious and don’t be afraid to have conversations about how your kids are doing,” Dr Coventry said.
“How are they feeling right now? What are their challenges and their confusions about what is going on?
“I would really like to stress that this is a series of conversations – it is not a one-off, intense conversation.
“Choose your opportunities as a parent when you do an activity with your child, you can have some of those conversations.”