Amidst Mental Health Awareness Month, the number of children in need of support soars

As more research is conducted, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children is becoming clearer.

Local mental health experts say there has been a sharp rise in the number of children who need their help, and these experts fear this is just the beginning.

A Minnesota man shares the journey he took to create better days for himself and talks about the resources available to families during Mental Health Awareness Month this May.

In the early 2000s, Jacob Englund was the drummer for Dropping Daylight.

“We had a video on MTV and we were on Rock Radio,” he recalls.

Englund was also head of the band’s business side. He says it has taken its toll.

“It was busy for a 22-year-old and I didn’t eat well and I didn’t sleep well. And the mental health journey really began when I was days ready. And I was held in Wisconsin for 72 hours.

Fast forward about 20 years; Englund has lived with a form of bipolar disorder and now sits on the board of directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Minnesota.

The first step in improving his mental health was key in his journey to better days. When asked what he would say to people taking the same first steps, Englund said, “Yeah, reach out, don’t do it alone.”

Jamie Winter, director of mental health services at Children’s Minnesota, says, “These struggles aren’t just affecting adults and mothers and fathers; Children’s Minnesota saw a 30% increase in the number of children requiring mental health support in 2021. It is sad to see the impact of the pandemic and the issues that many of our children and families are experiencing.”

Winter says as work is being done to meet this need, resources are becoming scarce.

“Families across the country are experiencing longer wait times than before,” Winter said. “So you know where we used to see maybe a couple of weeks to get into service. Now we might see that it’s a few months.”

Part of this work includes expanding their care, including a brand new residential care center in St. Paul.

But before this care can begin, families need to get in touch.

“We know that if we want children to be successful, we also help build their families in a way that they know how to support them and also function at a level that they can provide to the child really thrive,” Winter said.

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