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From Dr. Rob Schmidt, TCPS Mental Health Coordinator

Given the potentially life-threatening implications, most attention is focused on the awareness of Covid-19’s physical symptoms and taking preventative measures. However, the silent mental health implications of Covid-19 that are affecting all ages, will have much greater and far-reaching impact well after the Covid-19 vaccination is received.

The measures recommended to decrease the transmission of Covid-19 include isolation and quarantine (extreme cases include-lock-downs). However these preventative measures can also have unintended consequences. The mandates of restrictive social movement and decreased social interactions, which are counter to the hallmarks of youth behavior and development, can have a significant impact both psychologically and emotionally. This impact can lead to higher levels of anxiety, loneliness, fear, depression, and uncertainty of the future, which can increase feelings of hopelessness.

As our community strives to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and to protect our most vulnerable populations, the mental health and emotional implications will not have a vaccination to provide a quick solution. Schools remain on the front lines and are well positioned to identify the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our youth. However, there’s no greater substitute for the role parent/guardians play in their child’s development and advocacy to access the necessary supports when needed. As a community, we can all work towards the early identification of mental health needs and to assist with reducing the national epidemic of youth suicide. Talbot County Public Schools has social workers on staff in addition to three mental health service providers for students and families should additional supports be needed.

The chief risk factor associated with suicide is the noticeable symptoms of depression. These may include feeling socially isolated, becoming withdrawn, loss of interest, increase in sleep, loss of energy, feeling hopeless, changes in appetite, feeling more sad than happy, changes in behavior (including irritableness or becoming more tearful), increase in risk taking behaviors (including experimentation with drugs/alcohol), and loss of previously enjoyed activities (this is not a complete list of symptoms).

If your child or family is struggling with any of the symptoms noted above, please do not hesitate to “Ask-4-Help” (Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program). Should you have questions or need more information, please call Dr. Rob Schmidt, Mental Health Coordinator for Talbot County Public Schools at 410-822-0330.

RESOURCES
1. If Urgent Crisis call 911/Urgent 24/7
2. 24/7 Mobile Crisis Response 1-888-407-8018
3. Eastern Shore Psychological Services 410-822-5007
4. Bridges Behavioral Health 410-758-8750
5. Peace of Mind 410-690-8181
6. Maryland Helpline Call 211 then press 1
7. National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
8. For All Seasons 410-822-1018
9. Sun Behavioral Health (DE) -24-hour Assistance: (302) 604 – 5606

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