As a social worker and wife of a high school teacher and coach, Alicia Norris has a lot of concern for the young people in our community.
Norris is a clinical social worker who works with pediatrician Dr. David Timm out of his offices in Vidalia and Natchez.
A Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is a social worker who provides individual, group and family therapy to assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illness, as well as emotional and behavioral disturbances. LCSWs have additional hours of training that qualify them to work in clinical settings. Though the role of social workers and clinical social workers differs, their goal is the same: to act as an advocate for and improve the lives of their clients.
Norris said she is seeing more young patients since the coronavirus changed our way of life the past four months.
"A lot of people do not realize how this has affected young people," said Norris, whose husband, Michael, is past baseball and current head football coach at Vidalia. "I'm seeing a number of kids with a lot going on since Covid-19 surfaced. They are not able to go anywhere, be with their friends, school is up i the air and they do not have a normal routine."
Norris said she is seeing a lot of anxiety and depression among her patients, concerned about being able to attend college and other future goals.
"The parents will come in with their children talking about them being withdrawn, angry, defiant and staying up late talking to their friends and playing games and how this is not like them," Norris said. "I believe a lot of that is worry and boredom. At least the parents are able to get in a car and get away to do something, while some young people don't have that choice. There are parents who are really paranoid about this virus and will not let their children get out of the house. I had a 6-year old whose mom said was hearing voices. The grandmother was petrified, but had cut everything out for the child. The little girl just invented a friend."
Norris said one of the most upsetting scenes she has heard about is all the belongings that were left at school when the virus first appeared.
"There are books and clothing still in lockers," she said. "Everything just stopped. Everyone was thinking it would be all right and they would be returning soon. That hasn't been the case. And some young people are having to deal with that, their schedules are thrown off and the worry compounds into depression."
Norris advised parents not to just go by what the media reports, but delve into all aspects of the virus.
"There is good and bad on the internet," she said.
Norris said she is glad to see children able to attend school, even if it's not full time.
"It's why human interaction is so important," she said. "Which is one good thing about the hybrid plan for schools. At least they will have some type of interaction. We have to give our children some type of regular routine."
While acknowledging the danger of the virus, people need to focus on more serious issues.
"And one of those is suicide," she said. "We need to just keep reassuring our young people that this too will pass."