“Part of what makes the current moment so challenging for children and adolescents is because their parents were also suffering,” says Dr. Warren Ng, medical director of outpatient behavioral health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and a professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We see a fourfold increase in depression in adults, a threefold increase in terms of anxiety disorders in adults, as well as an increase in substance use and alcohol use. And some of these things have only made it harder for parents to be able to be the parents they want to be for their children and to create that safety net, that home support, that security that kids crave in order to be their best and learn and grow in their environments.”
It’s easy for parents to lose sight of their own needs when there are so many things to juggle. Dr. Shannon Bennett, site clinical director of the NewYork-Presbyterian Youth Anxiety Center and assistant professor of Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine, reminds parents of the advice they give on airplanes in the event of an emergency.
“Put on your own oxygen mask before you put on your kids’ mask,” she says. “It’s really important for parents to take care of themselves so that we can take care of our kids and our families and other important people in our lives. This is so hard, but continue to check in with yourself about what it is that you need.”