Alberta Blue Cross reminds families to pay attention to their children's mental health
As more than 700,000 children and youth prepare to return to class next month, a provincial organization is reaching out to help them with the mental health challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presents.
The Alberta Blue Cross, a leading provider of health and dental benefits, recently partnered with two other organizations, Kickstand and the Mental Health Foundation, to launch a messaging service to help inspire young people throughout the school year.
The service, called MoreGoodDays, delivers advice and uplifting messages to mobile phones that are subscribed to its service.
"Youth across Alberta can text 'MoreGoodDays' to 393939 to receive these daily text messages for free," the company said in a release.
All of the messages sent out from the service are written by youth, for youth, says a spokesperson from the Mental Health Foundation, an Alberta-based organization devoted to building better mental health for individuals.
"I think something you should know is that you are green with great, pink with perfect, aqua with awesome, blue with brave. You are a rainbow of qualities. Remember that! ” - MoreGoodDays Message written by a young person in Alberta
"Hi Friend! I noticed you’re a bit stressed… let’s unclench our jaw, drop our shoulders, relax our face and take a deep breath. In & Out. There we go! Much better. Have a great day :)" - MoreGoodDays Message written by a young person in Alberta
“Don't forget that rest is okay. We don't always have to be working in order to feel productive. Rest can be productive too.” - More Good Days message from Albertan young person
MENTAL HEALTH SUFFERED IN PANDEMIC
Alberta Blue Cross says it is "critical" for all Albertans to pay attention to their children's mental health needs.
"Children are very resilient," said Brian Geslinger, vice-president of corporate relations at Alberta Blue Cross and a father of three school-aged children, in a statement. "But, like all of us, the pandemic has brought massive change in our lives – and even as we see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we need to be aware that many children are still deeply affected by the stress and uncertainty."
According to a recent study from the University of Calgary that collected data from more than 80,000 students from around the world, one-in-four youth are experiencing elevated symptoms of depression while one-in-five are suffering from high anxiety.
The study also suggested that students, because of the continued health restrictions brought on by the pandemic, are missing milestones that are key to their development.
Alberta Blue Cross also said that Alberta Health Services reported eight times as many youth were admitted to hospital for anxiety disorders than for COVID-19.
Parents who have seen the mental-health support for their children curtailed or cut because of COVID-19 restrictions are speaking out.
2020'S HEALTH TIPS STILL APPLY
Prior to the return to class for students in 2020-2021, the company offered a series of mental health tips to help support children, youth and their families.
Officials say that same advice still applies for this coming school year.
The guidelines include:
- Setting out emergency contacts and informing your children about who they are and how to access them;
- Establishing bedtime and morning routines before school starts and;
- Develop backup plans when your child becomes sick in order to be prepared for emergencies.
- Take the time to understand when your children are stressed and don't dismiss their concerns;
- Talk to your children about world events that they may have heard about so they can understand what is going on;
- Manage your own stress as tension can be contagious and;
- Help them develop good coping skills to manage inevitable stress that will occur in their daily lives.
Researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children say smartphone and social media use may be a contributing factor in the increase in mental health issues reported by youth. (Pixabay / Pexels)
AHS offers a wide range of mental health resources to support Albertans through the pandemic. They can all be accessed online.
In addition, Alberta Blue Cross offers plan members access to counselling and psychology supports.
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