Montefiore pediatric specialist shares advice on how COVID-19 has affected children

Teresa Hsu-Walklet
Montefiore pediatric specialist shares her thoughts on how COVID-19 has affected children
Courtesy of Montefiore

During the past few months of COVID-19, therapy and mental health services have been crucial tools for millions of people.

Dr. Teresa Hsu-Walklet, the supervising psychologist for the Behavioral Health Integration Program (BHIP) at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), said while it was an adjustment counseling people virtually at first, it has been extremely beneficial.

Children are shuttered home and many are dealing with isolation, family members that are sick or have died and parents who lost their jobs. Many parents and caregivers may not know how to address these issues with children or have the tools to help their children understand and cope, which is where people like Hsu-Walklet come in. Hsu-Walklet, 39, has been with Montefiore for six years, but in her field for 17.

“There’s definitely been an increase amount of stress,” she said.

Hsu-Walklet told the Bronx Times she has seen an uptick in behavioral issues in children due to COVID-19. Being shuttered at home has caused youths to be hyper vigilant, not sleep at night, stay in bed all day or just act out she said.

“The social piece and the isolation piece is huge,” Hsu-Walklet said.

Hsu-Walklet noted that even though kids can communicate via social media or Zoom, it’s simply not the same as human interaction. Additionally, even on those platforms kids are still bullied as they are left out of Zoom meetings.

She explained that when the pandemic first began, many people were filled with depression.

“We were grieving for what used to be,” she explained. “This is new for everyone. The coping skills that a lot of our kids use to use are no longer available.”

As things began to slowly get better, the rioting and race tensions erupted in New York City and throughout the country. Now kids are dealing with this stress on top of COVID-19.

Hsu-Walklet said therapy is taboo in many cultures, but stressed talking to people is healthy and beneficial.

While it can be a cultural “no-no,” she hopes people overcome the stigma and talk to professionals and let their child do so as well.

“This pandemic has really affected everybody,” Hsu-Walklet said. “It’s really normal to feel the way people are. It doesn’t mean people don’t get treatment for it. This is definitely the time to seek treatment.”