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Students handling stress amid the pandemic

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Posted at 7:10 AM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 11:12:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Managing stress during the pandemic can take on a mental toll for everyone, including students.

For some, they may be turning to substance abuse to cope.

Tri-County Mental Health Services said COVID-19 poses new threats that can lead to substance abuse.

Some examples are increased stress, changes in routines, and with many students starting school virtually, they could feel more isolated.

Program Development Specialist with Tri-County Mental Health, Laura Bruce, said the earlier the child engages in substance abuse, the higher chance they'll have a problem with it later in life.

"Things like (the) ability to make decisions, emotions, all of those things are really being pruned and grown during adolescents and that is what substance use impacts," Bruce said. "Nine out of 10 people who have a substance use disorder started before the age of 18."

Bruce said most students are taking healthy steps when feeling stressed. But for those who may be struggling, there are protective factors students can lean into when handling the stress:

- Self-Care ( nutrition and exercise)
- Ask for Help (if you're feeling at a low point -- reach out to a teacher, parent or counselor you trust)
- Try New Activities (yoga, running, spending time with family, board games)
- Be there for your friends

Bruce said even though people have to be physically distant during this time, try to find other ways to socially come together, in a virtual way, such as FaceTime, email, sending letters or trivia.

For parents, Bruce said make sure to take a firm stance on the issue.

"So it's not, 'If it comes up, I hope you won't,'" Bruce said. "But more, 'In our family, we really want you to stay drug-free because we care about your brain. This is how you want to respond. We don't want you to engage. We hope you'll protect yourself. We hope you protect your friends.'"

Tri-County offered the four C's for parents to remember while talking to kids about handling stress and steering away from substance use:

Care
Connect
Communicate
(Pay) Careful Attention

It's also recommended at least four times a week, for just eight minutes, have device-free meals to help combat drug use, have better peer connection and do better on school work.

Here's a list at more resources for parents:

Parentupkc.com
Quarantine Chronicles (videos made by youth for other youth)
Show Me Hope Initiative (Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990)

The Rebound Kansas City is our effort is to help metro residents play a role in moving our community forward. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas to via email to rebound@kshb.com and we welcome you to join in the conversation on the Rebound KC Facebook Group.

Whether you're Getting Back to Work after a layoff, need help Making Ends Meet during these trying times or need tips on Managing the Pressure we're all feeling, The Rebound has resources to find help. We'll also make sure local leaders are Doing What's Right to get Kansas City back track after a three-month shutdown.

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