Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day: 11-year-old takes unique approach to help others cope amid pandemic

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DENVER (KDVR) — Thursday is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, and this year, it’s a topic that’s top-of-mind for parents and children.

Given the closures of businesses, schools and outdoor recreational areas, parents are worried about the long-term mental health impacts the coronavirus pandemic with have on their children.

One Colorado girl has taken a unique approach to helping others cope with mental health.

Kate Hartman, 11, has launched a video series offering coping strategies for young people struggling with all of the changes happening lately.

“I’m calling it Kate’s Corner. Kate’s Corner is somewhere you’re supposed to feel safe,” she said.

Hartman is an ambassador at Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Pediatric Mental Health Institute, where’s she’s been treated over the past few years.

In third grade, she was bullied by other kids, and told her mother she didn’t want to live anymore.

“Everything just like totally collapsed, and my life was just really hard at that time,” Hartman said.

She can understand the feeling of isolation so many other kids must be dealing with right now because of the pandemic, and so does her mom.

“You know, all this change and disruption to schedule and routine can take a toll on your mental health,” Hope Hartman told FOX31.

That’s why, as a family, they’re checking in with each other more often and talking things through.

“A quick easy one we’ve learned over the years is just to name a feeling that you’re feeling right in that moment, and then you can expand on it or not. But I think just naming something sort of gives it less power if it’s something negative,” Hope Hartman said.

To help cope with COVID-19, Kate turns the negatives into positives. She makes art, does virtual exercise to be with her friends, and is doing telehealth sessions to get one-on-one emotional support.

“And I think it’s really effective and it’s very flexible. There are a lot of therapists that are available on the weekends, and evenings and things like that, and we’ve had a really positive experience so far in our family,” Hope Hartman said.

The Hartmans want other families to know it’s okay to ask for help.

May has been named Mental Health Month, and right now, COACT ColoradoChildren’s Hospital Colorado and the non-profit Partners for Children’s Mental Health have joined forces to create tips for parents to help their kids to get through the crisis. You can see a video they created here.

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