Newsmakers: PrairieCare CEO Talks About Pandemic Impact on Children’s Mental Health
PrairieCare saw a 15 percent increase in patient visits last year, and they only expect that number to increase as the pandemic continues to impact mental health.
“I actually think we are going through a mental health-related pandemic, which I think a lot of us were expecting as people were delaying care and absorbing the increased stress of school, work and social relationships,” said Todd Archbold, PrairieCare‘s Chief Executive Officer.
Archbold stresses that mental illness is common and treatable and mental health advocates continue to work to decrease the potential stigma of mental illness.
“With mental illness being real, we know that these are changes in hormonal balances and chemicals in our brain and its nothing that you can just get over. It’s not in your head. It’s certainly not a weakness or some type of character flaw,” said Archbold. “In fact, for people who are experiencing things like panic attacks that can manifest as physical symptoms mimicking cardiac arrest or seizures. So we want people to know that mental illnesses are very real.”
Archbold says most often they see depression and anxiety, and those symptoms can grow to a point where they can actually complicate work or school.
“We want people to know it’s common, that it’s treatable, and there is hope,” said Archbold.
Archbold suggests saying in tune with children’s emotions, behaviors and routines. Knowing signs of depression, like withdrawl, loss of interest, feeling hopeless and helpless, and greater isolation can help parents, teachers, coaches and other trusted adults know how to identify those who are struggling.
PrairieCare offers free mental health screenings and diagnostic assessments to help connect people to the right level of care.
PrairieCare expects to break ground this summer on an expansion to their facility in Brooklyn Park. Their in-patient beds for youth will go from 71 to 101. If construction stays on schedule, it will open in the fall of 2023.