SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – This week, parenting expert and journalist Donna Tetreault and former Harvard Medical School professor Dr. William Haseltine discuss pediatric mental health.

Dr. Haseltine says COVID-19 has had a profound impact on everyone’s mental health, particularly young children.

“COVID has created a syndemic,” Dr. Haseltine explains. “It’s a medical crisis, it’s an economic crisis, it’s a personal crisis, and it’s a traumatic crisis for parents and their children.”

Haseltine says the pandemic has created confusion among young children who are struggling to grasp these unprecedented circumstances.

“If children don’t think they can do anything about it, they get a feeling of hopelessness,” Dr. Haseltine says. “There are a lot of mental health issues that come with that; behavior problems, depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety.”

But what can parents do to help children navigate through these feelings?

Dr. Haseltine says it’s important to help children understand what’s happening, but let them know that these circumstances won’t last forever.

“Have them talk about and feel their emotions,” Haseltine says. “One of the most important things for kids is for them to feel that they are being heard.”

It’s also important for teachers to understand how to address these feelings in children as they return to the classroom.

Haseltine says it won’t be an easy task for educators. “Teachers are going to be very overwhelmed,” he says. “It’s important for schools to beef up their psychiatric and social work services.”

To watch the full conversation with Tetreault and Dr. Haseltine, click the video at the top of the story.