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News Release

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit clinic providing health and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, wants to raise awareness of mental health struggles children are facing due to the pandemic.

Children’s Mental Health Week will be observed February 7-13, 2022, to bring awareness to the social, emotional and mental well-being of children. In a 2020 survey conducted by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, 71% of parents said the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health.

“The pandemic has caused mental health crises for many children,” said Misty Gillespie, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic’s Director of Behavioral Health. “They are experiencing disruptions in their routines, lost security and safety, and missing significant life events. Many children are also experiencing grief due to the loss of a loved one.”

Experiencing trauma during childhood can have long-term effects. Luckily, parents and caregivers can watch for signs of stress and offer support to their children. Behavior changes to look for include difficulties with attention or concentration, avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past, excessive worry or sadness, and returning to behaviors they have outgrown. 

If your child is showing signs of stress, there are ways you can offer support. Reassure them that they are safe, and tell them how you are dealing with your own stress. This can help teach ways to cope with stress in the future. If your child asks you questions about COVID-19, answer honestly and in terms that they can understand. Try to spend time doing meaningful activities together, like playing a board game or going for a walk. This will help support their social and emotional needs.

“You can be a role model for your child by taking care of your own mental health needs,” Gillespie said. “Remember to get plenty of sleep, eat well and take breaks from watching or reading news stories.”

The pandemic has caused mental health crises for many children, but caregivers can offer support and reassurance.

If you or your child are in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Oklahoma City Indian Clinic has Behavioral Health services available for patients. Call (405) 948-4900 ext. 610 for more information.

About Oklahoma City Indian Clinic

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was established in 1974 to provide excellent health care and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma. The clinic staff cares for more than 21,000 patients from over 220 federally recognized tribes every year. American Indians can receive a range of services, including medical, dental, pediatrics, prenatal, pharmacy, optometry, physical fitness, nutrition, family programs and behavioral health services. For more information, please call (405) 948-4900 or visit www.okcic.com.

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