North Texas

Busy Schedules for Children Can Lead to Mental Health Stress

If you shuttle your children from academics to athletics and social activities you know how stressful it can be on you. Do you know the impact it's having on your kids?

It's a routine single mom Anastasia Taylor Has down pat.

She leaves the office, drives around town with her son Israel and daughter Lily trying to balance life.

"It can be exhausting," Taylor said.

What's stressful for parents is even harder when you're a kid -- between school work, marital arts, and chores, it can be hard for Israel to shut his brain down at night.

"I had trouble sleeping and I pushed everything off my bed," he said.

There's so much going on. He's in honors choir, martial arts, and in a challenging the STAAR test.

Almost 4.5 million children in America have been diagnosed with anxiety and almost two million with depression according to the CDC.

"The fastest growing group presenting with mental health concerns are young people," said Kem Edwards, Director of Guidance and Counseling for the Mesquite Independent School District.

Edwards said counselors jobs have changed from just checking credits and sending transcripts to helping keep kids from breaking down.

"I don't have one or two kids with a big behavior concern," said Edwards. "I have a lot of those kids."

Schools across North Texas are taking steps to help. At KIPP Pleasant Grove, students have a class devoted to their stresses and figuring out ways to manage their emotions.

"When I'm sad sometimes, my friends come by and give me a hug and make me feel better, they tell me to stop, name my feeling and tell them how I feel," said student Kirsten Clark.

It's called 'social and emotional learning,' more schools in North Texas are bringing it to campus recognizing their students are just under so much pressure these days.

Mesquite ISD won a statewide award for their efforts to help kids cope.

"Society definitely is changing and that has changed, the stresses that our students face has changed," said school counselor Chelsea Alvarado.

Alvarado said she encourages parents to look for changes their kids.

"Whether that child is normally super outgoing and gregarious is suddenly withdrawn. Someone who is typically timid is acting out," said Alvarado.

Changes in how your child eats or sleeps, complaining of headaches and stomach aches, or even just being frustrated or irritable are all signs parents shouldn't ignore.

In the Taylor's busy household, sitting down to dinner is important. It's their Mom's time set aside time to Lilly and Israel. she also does it as soon as she sees something is off, especially when it comes to that schools, sports, life balance.

"Sometimes we'll have to say, 'Why are you yelling? Everyone else is calm why are you upset?'" said Anastasia.

Israel said it helps him feel better.

"Getting everything off my mind because I'm trying not to annoy everyone," said Israel.

Anastasia walks the track every day while Lily is playing soccer. She lets her daughter know it's not just her way of getting in exercise, but also her time to just breathe and handle the stress we all face in life.

"It's the oxygen mask analogy, if you're not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else," said Anastasia.

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