Children can be approached with a simple question such as, "How was your day at school?" which can lead to an open, honest conversation. (Foto: Ilustrativa/Pexels)


Are you wondering if your child is ok? Unfortunately, school-aged children have gone through. COVID, isolation, loneliness, fear, and feelings of entrapment. Even before COVID-19, 44.2% of school-aged children experienced continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the most common mental health issues facing youth is depression and anxiety with a much higher prevalence since COVID-19 as its effects continue. Knowing the symptoms of these disorders helps us to be alert.

Symptoms of depression include changes in sleep schedule, increased or decreased appetite, fatigue, and forgetfulness. You might notice that your child no longer finds pleasure in activities they once enjoyed. For example, a child who used to play soccer might find excuses not to play anymore.

The most common anxiety symptoms in children are irritability, waking up in the middle of the night with bad dreams, using the toilet often, and constantly worrying.

Children with anxiety and/or depression can also experience physical symptoms like headache, stomachaches, or fatigue. Have you seen your child exhibit these symptoms? If so, you might be thinking, “How can I help?”


In a survey, it was found that 70% of parents find it difficult to communicate with their children. Communicating with children doesn’t have to be so hard. Children can be approached with a simple question such as, «How was your day at school?» which can lead to an open, honest conversation.

During the conversation your child may say, “I’m feeling depressed.” How should a parent react? The best thing that can be done for the child is to validate their feelings whether they are depressed, anxious, or suicidal so that they can feel like they have someone who cares. When a child says, “I feel depressed,” their concern should not be invalidated by responding with statements like, “You’re not depressed” or “You shouldn’t feel depressed, you have everything!”

When these responses are given, they will not want to open up. Bottled-up feelings on mental health issues result in students who are more likely to self-harm or commit suicide. It would also make the child less likely to reveal if they are being bullied, sexually abused, mistreated, or experiencing any other trauma they should tell a parent about.

 If your child reveals to you that they are depressed or anxious, a great way to validate their feelings is by asking questions like, “Why do you feel depressed?” or “I’m sorry you feel depressed. What’s going on?”

Acknowledging that their feelings are valid can make children open up, and tell their parents the things that they should know.


In loco parentis is a Latin, legal term used in the field of education that means “in the place of the parent.” In practical terms, it means that teachers and school staff act as your child’s parents during the school day to ensure the safety and well-being of your child. Since they care for and interact with your child for 8 hours a day, they are an excellent resource to provide insight into your child’s behaviors and the changes in their behavior that you may be unaware of. Reach out to them whenever you are concerned about your child, their moods, bullying issues, or need someone else’s perspective about them.

There are ways you can communicate with your child’s teachers. Have a cell phone? Schools are using apps now to communicate with parents directly through their cell phones. Esperanza Charter High School, for example, is using Talking Points. Talking Points is an app where you can text your child’s teachers. You can even write your message in Spanish and have it automatically translated into English through the app. Since not every school uses the same technology, you should find out which app your child’s school is using.

Hate using technology/apps? Go the old-school way: Write a note and send it with your child to give to their teacher. The note can say something like, “Please call me at this number. I need to talk to you about my child.” From there, a teacher can call the parent and answer any questions. Believe it or not, many teachers would be eager to help support your child’s mental health and would love to hear from you.

Want to go to the school in person but are afraid of a possible language barrier? Almost every school has support staff that can provide translation services.

Wondering what other school staff, you should be in contact with? School Psychologists are found in every school. They can give a series of assessments to students to diagnose a variety of mental health issues such depression, anxiety, and autism, ADHD…

Once a diagnosis is made, your child will receive an Individualized Learning Plan (IEP) that will help them receive specialized instructions and resources customized to their specific needs. School Counselors are also an excellent resource as they can refer your student to local organizations that can give therapeutic services. Many schools also have an In-School Clinical Counselor who provides therapy without you having to transport your child anywhere during school hours.

It has never been easier to see what your child needs and get in contact with the appropriate school staff member.


Creating structure and routine positively affects mental health especially as COVID-19 disrupted countless lives. Ever since this global pandemic, a struggle to reintroduce order and routine to children’s lives has resulted in chronic absenteeism like never before. Children with irregular attendance not only have the likelihood of suffering from poor mental health as they are not under a predictable schedule.

Without routine being enforced at home, they have nothing to live for or care about; it’s a life without goals that contributes to our city’s dropout rates. Having structure in school leads to adults that are more successful in the workplace. It’s equally important to create a quiet environment where children can do homework and study without the loud noise of a TV or other distractions. It is advisable to provide a well-lit dedicated study space at home or to take your child to the library.

Overall, how can you help? Parents should be alert, ask about their child’s day, validate them, and provide structure. Parents, please don’t feel alone when your child needs help. Please reach out to your child’s educational providers who are there for you.

Roxanne Delgado is a School Counselor.


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