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Parents Told to Monitor Kids’ Mental Health as Classes Resume

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A health expert in New York has advised parents to look out for mental health issues college kids might experience as in-person classes recommence this fall.

Chief of behavioral health at Northern Westchester Hospital, Dr. Richard Catanzaro, said college students are at high risk of anxiety in navigating their “new world” after disconnecting with face-to-face interactions for more than a year.

He explained that many college students might encounter issues with time management, emotional self-regulation, and social skills after living with their parents again during the pandemic. He said this could lead to depression, feelings of ineffectiveness, and an inability to function.

Catanzaro also recommends that parents monitor their children’s activities as college is usually the time when young adults “experiment with substances.” He stated that students might self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to deal with their anxiety, increasing the risk of chemical dependency and overdose.

Spotting Mental Health Issues

According to Catanzaro, students experiencing mental health issues may have trouble getting to class on time or performing their best at school. In severe cases, these students might be unable to get out of bed, take a bath, or eat.

To spot possible emotional issues, parents must watch out for “red flags,” such as if their kids are failing classes, considering dropping out of school, or looking worse than usual. They can also visit their children’s social media accounts to see if there are any unusual posts.

If parents suspect that their child is having suicidal thoughts, Catanzaro advises them to be direct in asking, “Are you thinking about ending your life?”

“I’m not suggesting that parents worry; rather, they should be watchful. My best advice is to make yourself available and speak frankly with your young adult,” he explained in an interview with HealthDay.

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