Liverpool doctor sees disturbing trend among adolescents and mental health

Local News

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Picture this: you’re in the middle of a digital work meeting, your child is remote-learning in the other room and yelling for your help.

It’s a scene that’s been playing out in many households for almost a year and it’s leading to frustration, nitpicking, and a disturbing trend.

The Medical Director of Summerwood Pediatrics, Dr. Robert Dracker says the work-from-home and school-from-home lifestyle is changing the relationship and dynamic between parents and children who are stuck together for far longer than ever before.

“Parents are under a lot of pressure and I think they may not be as tolerant of a child’s behavior, and so it ends up being somewhat antagonistic,” said Dracker.

The environment is leading to more arguments and pent up anger, and the way it’s being released is alarming to Dr. Dracker.

“The way children emotionally bailout is by saying, ‘I want to hurt myself‘ or ‘I want to hurt someone else‘,” he said.

Dr. Dracker says kids are talking about self-harm at an earlier age. Even more concerning, there’s a spike in adolescents following through with those thoughts.

“I’ve seen a dramatic increase in cutting,” said Dracker. “They do cutting sometimes as a means of asking for help.”

The bigger concern is what that behavior can lead to: suicide.

“That’s real. I mean, this past week I’ve had four admissions for suicidal ideations in, you know, young children,” Dracker said.

The problem stems from the fact that an entire family unit is adapting to a massive change in lifestyle. It’s not easy and neither is the solution.

“There’s not one recipe you can use for every family,” said Dracker. “You need to understand that each of you has your own needs and you need to express that to each other.”

He says communication is critical and so is being sensitive to one another’s feelings and needs.

“I think people need to focus on their relationships and try to maintain the relationships with their friends and family as much as they can,” he said.

Dr. Dracker encourages parents to give their kids love and let them know they’re there for them, while also giving their kids a bit of space too.

If you have any concerns about your child, Dr. Dracker recommends speaking to your child’s physician.

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