‘Pandemic Of Mental Health’: Calls to Children’s Hotline Increase, Especially Before School Hours

North Jersey.com (November 1, 2021) covering the increase in calls to the children’s hotline and the adjustments from the Pandemic of mental health.
Calls for help to the New Jersey children’s mental health hotline have increased compared with last year as parents seek help, especially during the morning hours, said the Department for Children and Families (DFC) commissioner.

The overall call volume to the Children’s System of Care increased, with the most calls coming from parents as their children experience stress before school hours, Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer said during a state COVID briefing.

CarePlus partners with Manchester and Little Falls districts in Passaic County; in Bergen County, it partners with nearly 25 districts, providing mental health professionals who provide counseling for identified students, prevention around addiction, and learning support from a coping and mental health angle for after-school educational teams, said Mullins.

Mullins said her counselors in the high school reported seeing increased levels of anxiety in the first weeks of school, with some students reporting they were finding the work overwhelming and felt the need to step out of class.

“I’m seeing this from many of the districts we work with that kids this year just don’t seem to able to tolerate and cope with the kind of the stressors that may not have upset them so greatly earlier,” Mullins said.

The CarePlus staff has been doing a lot of “trauma-informed care” in districts where students lost parents to COVID, or are suffering from income losses or became sick with the virus, Mullins said. Counselors try to see students during electives and lunch, rotating the classes they miss so that their academic success is not in jeopardy.

Students are referred to CarePlus’ in-school providers by point persons such as teachers on child-study teams and guidance counselors. Therapy begins after a meeting with the parents or guardian. This year it has focused on helping students transition to the school setting, after last year’s disruption. Children with chronic mental health issues are referred to external service providers.

North Jersey