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With schools closed and many family activities canceled, the mental health of children and families is coming into focus.

Children have been separated from friends and teachers, while at the same time losing childhood staples like sports, proms, and summer camps. Some parents and caregivers must now also find a way to become their kids’ educators while still working full-time. These factors, along with other stresses related to COVID-19, are straining young people’s mental health.

“Just like we educate ourselves about fiscal health, we need to educate ourselves about mental health,” said Marisa Giarnella-Porco, president of the Jordan Porco Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes awareness of suicide and mental health issues in young adults.

Giarnella-Porco said parents should be conscious of changes in the normal behavior of their kids. This can range from anger and irritability to disruptions in eating and sleeping patterns.

If parents do have concerns, Giarnella-Porco says there are “great resources out there and it’s okay to just look those up.”

One resource available through the state of Connecticut is the “When it Builds Up, Talk it Out” phone line, which is managed by the Department of Children and Families. Caregivers who call the line are transferred to a local provider who will listen to concerns and struggles and then provide general strategies and resources for the family. 

The Department of Children and Families said there is no end date for the line’s availability.

Full Interview:

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“When it Builds Up, Talk it Out” or call 1-833-258-5011

Jordan Porco Foundation Programs

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Adam Chiara

Adam Chiara is an associate professor of communication at the University of Hartford and a multimedia storyteller.