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According to CNN, US lawmakers are now calling for research into the coronavirus pandemic's impact on mental health. A Covid-19 Mental Health Research Act could be introduced soon. The legislation would direct $100 million annually for five years to the National Institute of Mental Health to fund research on the mental health consequences of the pandemic.

It's about time. Hopefully, this will lead to a better understanding generally of the role trauma plays in the lives of children and families.

The bill will largely focus on health care workers and their feelings of acute stress and anxiety as well as children, adolescents, and seniors who have also been uniquely impacted. I hope and will advocate that this research includes behavioral health organizations. While physical health care providers have been dealing with those who are sick, it is the people who work at places like Beech Brook who have been holding the rest of the world together and picking up the broken pieces.

Other funding would support post-pandemic mental health response and suicide prevention, and this will be much needed.

The demand for mental health care is overwhelming some providers, and I believe that as kids go back to school and our nation moves back toward “normal,” we will also feel the crush of need as well.

Youth suicides had been rising before the pandemic, and it is too early to link an increase in deaths directly to school closures, Katrina Rufino, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston, told CNN in January.

Nationally, the proportion of emergency room visits related to mental health doubled between April and October for children between the ages of 5 and 11 and tripled for those between the ages of 12 and 17, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the CDC.

I suspect that many of these children did not have the supportive services offered by agencies like Beech Brook. These may be the kids that have now flown under the radar for nearly a year.

Finally, I want to leave you with this thought by Donna Ashworth:

In twenty years’ time...

People will not ask the children of 2020 if they caught up with their studies.

They will not ask them what grades they made, despite the year off school.

They will ask them with wonder ‘what was it like?’

They will ask them ‘how did you cope?’

‘How did you feel?’

‘What do you remember of those days?”

They will listen in awe to the tales of clapping on doorsteps for the medical workers.

They will sit open-mouthed to hear of daily walks being the only life we saw and how much we missed human contact and gatherings.

They will be amazed to know about empty supermarkets, online concerts, birthdays spent on a screen and a life lived inside.

They will listen, then sit back with amazement and say, ‘Wow. You went through so much.’

So think about what you would like your children to take away from this whole year.

Tell them they are not behind.

Tell them they are not missing out.

Tell them they are extremely special indeed and they will be forever made stronger by this unique time.

Tell them catching up is not even a thing because they have grown so much in so many other ways.

Remind them too of the fun stuff, the family jigsaws, the window rainbows, the zoom bingo.

The feeling of safety and togetherness amidst the chaos.

Let them take that thought with them through life.

Change the narrative now and it will travel far.

Tell the children they are not behind.

They are special.

They are special.

Thanks to you and your belief in Beech Brook, I know that the children we work with are in good hands. We are so grateful for your support.

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