Natural Disasters Compound Mental Health Issues for KY Kids
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
Housing displacement and emotional trauma from natural disasters in the past year are likely worsening kids' mental health in the Commonwealth, experts say, and new data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Book show the state already saw a 28% increase in children's anxiety or depression between 2016 and 2020.
Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, pointed out that economic uncertainty and inflation place additional burdens on households trying to recoup from flooding and tornadoes.
"The emerging data confirms what common sense has told us all along: It's tough growing up," Brooks said. "You add to growing up in the midst of pandemics, in the midst of natural disasters, and that's a multiplier."
More than 200,000 kids across the state still are living in poverty. The report ranks Kentucky 37th among states for overall child well-being.
Louisville psychologist Joseph Bargione said more than a half-million Kentucky kids who attend public schools have a diagnosed mental-health disorder. He said young people need support building resiliency skills, and time and space to express their feelings and have them validated.
"When we're looking at elementary students," Bargione said, "we're seeing problems with attending or focusing, concentration, school avoidance issues, clinginess, aggression."
He said middle- and high-school students often experience sleep disturbances, eating disorders, and agitation and anxiety.
Gerry Roll, executive director of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, said now is the time for smart investments in eastern Kentucky that can lay the foundation for strong communities and building new homes on land that is less prone to flooding.
"But I think what we're going to do now," Roll said, "is think about, 'How do we build back in a way that creates more resilience?'"
The report said housing displacement and unaffordability also limit resources families have for other necessities such as food, health care and transportation.
get more stories like this via email
Groups fighting for Palestinian rights are praising a new fact sheet on religious discrimination from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for …
Lawmakers and immigrants-rights activists in the Commonwealth are hoping to pass the Language Access and Inclusion Act, which would dramatically …
New U.S. Department of Agriculture rules will target fraud and increase oversight of the $64 billion-a-year organic food industry. In Iowa, the …
By Jennifer Weiss-Wolf for Ms. Magazine.Broadcast version by Eric Galatas for Colorado News Connection reporting for the Ms. Magazine-Public News …
North Dakota's plan to boost animal agriculture has reignited a thorny issue: loosening restrictions on corporate ownership of farms. The state said …
Oregon is pursuing an aggressive climate plan to switch to renewable energy sources, but it faces one often overlooked issue: enough high-voltage …
A measure in the Washington State Legislature would provide free school meals to K-12 students, but nutrition service workers are worried they are …
Advocates and stakeholders have solutions for the Virginia Employment Commission to get through its backlog of unemployment appeal cases. According …