MINNEAPOLIS — “At the end of the day, I’m a parent, I’m anxious, and I worried for my unvaccinated boys,” said Dr. Madeleine Gagnon.
Dr. Gagnon isn’t just the Associate Medical Director of Pediatrics at Gillette Children’s Hospital, she’s also a mother of 7-year-old twin boys.
“I think what helps me, fellow professionals and parents is taking things into control of what you can control,” said Gagnon.
As parents, teachers and students across the state – prepare for the start of classes Tuesday, health experts – like Dr. Gagnon - say there may be other challenges as schools navigate another year in a pandemic.
“There are all the usual aspects around the pandemic, school shootings, cultural tensions - layer that on top of all the academic achievement stressors, social media, I worry about our kids,” said Gagnon.
Data shows that throughout the pandemic, young people have experienced poor mental health outcomes. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 25% of high school students reported worsened emotional and cognitive health shortly after the pandemic began.
“We knew pre-pandemic, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – 1 out of 3 teens were struggling with an underdiagnosed anxiety disorder, and that’s with the usual triggers of adolescent transition, and when you layer that with the lack of predictability that invariably this school year will be, it brings into play a lot of uncertainty,” said Gagnon.
While Gagnon says it’s important for parents to make sure their kids follow COVID-19 safety measures to help stop the spread, she says it’s also important for parents to be proactive when it comes to their child’s mental health.
“Let them have their feelings. I feel as parents and professionals, we’re very solution driven,” said Gagnon. “Let them process their feelings, let them have space to say what they have to say, provide reassurances when you accurately can, and help them move forward.”