We talk about it on the KIT Morning News.  You hear and read about the Yakima County Health Board wrestling with it. You see it on TV amid the growing national pushback against mask mandates for school-aged kids.  You know the questions.
Where is the evidence that masks make any kind of statistical difference in school kids catching or transmitting COVID?

What are the negative impacts on learning and socialization as a result of being forced to wear masks all day long?
What about the inconsistencies in requiring vaccinated students or covid survivors to mask up?
And MORE...lots more.
But with all the attention being paid to K-12 students, experts say we may be overlooking a real crises brewing in higher education.  Yakima Valley students are back at CWU, UW and WSU and parents need to be aware of the special challenges they face.
United Press International (UPI) recently reported on the effects of isolation and anxiety on college students. The results indicate a high risk for mental health issues as the late-teens transition from adolescence to adulthood.
"As students return to their campuses, it's important for parents to monitor their young adults' mental health...Human beings are social animals, so after this past year and an extended period of disconnection in our face-to-face interactions, we can expect college students to experience a steep increase in social anxiety and anxiety about navigating their new world
 In addition, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1 in 4 young adults have considered suicide during the pandemic.  1 in 4!  That's amazing and disturbing.

The guidance is for parents to be aware and watching for signs of  mental health issues in their young adults :

  • Use Zoom or FaceTime to see how their student looks and what their living environment looks like. Both can be indicators of mental health.
  • Watch for red flags, such as failing many or all classes, dropping out of school, being consistently unavailable, and sounding or looking terrible.
  • Ask specific questions such as: What did you eat last night? What are you studying in your Psychology/Science/Literature class?
  • Set expectations. Find out how often you can see their grades and regularly review them.
  • Monitor social media for concerning statements, such as "Just remember, I love you all." These can indicate a wish or plan for self-harm.

The experts say they aren't suggesting that parents worry; rather, they should be watchful, available, and speak frankly with their young adults.

KEEP READING: Learning From Mistakes During the Spanish Flu