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How will children handle the holidays during a pandemic?

Mental health experts offer warning signs and ways to cope.

ATLANTA — For many children, the holidays are filled with magic. But when the celebrations and gatherings aren't allowed, experts worry children might struggle to find joy.

A psychiatric mental health nurse at Hillside Inc., Kimberly Young said the holidays can lead to stress and depression in both adults and children. 

“The holidays can be triggering for a lot of people, but for children, it really comes down to how their family is at home," Young said.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a lot of seasonal factors can trigger the holiday blues such as less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, over-commercialization, or the inability to be with friends or family. Unrealistic expectations that accompany the season can also be a catalyst for the holiday blues.

Young added that children are sponges when it comes to feelings and that parents should monitor their child's mental health by watching for seclusion, irritability, outbursts, or persistent sadness. 

She also shared ways parents can help their children by having open discussions, addressing fears and worries, and limiting their children's time in front of the television and on the computer.

If your child or you know a child struggling with their mental health, you can contact call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI.

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