If your son or daughter is having a hard time getting back into a regular routine or struggling with odd and sometimes frightening types of behaviors, you are not alone.

During the COVID update in Trenton on Wednesday, Christine Norbut Beyer, the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, said getting our kids back into pre-COVID habits isn’t necessarily quick or easy, and as the pandemic continues, it can be further complicated by feelings of stress, anxiety and fear.

She said for the first part of this month, call volume to the Children’s System of Care hotline is up, and mobile response dispatches are up 30% compared to this same time period in recent years.

“We’re receiving more calls in the morning, with parents indicating an increase in school refusal or avoidant behavior,” she said.

Beyer noted some of the signs of serious behavioral health challenges in kids can include “prolonged or recurring opposition and aggression, property damage and disrespect and feelings of anxiety or depression.

She said parents may also notice “a pattern or prolonged lying and fighting, stealing or substance use, or running away or engaging in acts of self-harm.”

She said help is available by calling the New Jersey Children’s System of Care hotline at 1-877-652-7624.

And through the Second Floor program, she said kids can access help on their own to talk about their problems or worries.

“Tweens, teens and young adults, ages 10 to 24 can call 1-888-222-2228 or visit 2ndfloor.org,” she said.

The commissioner said right now in Jersey we’re experiencing a sort of parallel pandemic of youth emotional health challenges, with some children having a hard time transitioning back to in-person education, and experiencing behavioral and emotional challenges, so getting help is important.

“Our provider network of youth behavioral health services has the resources, the skill and the capacity to help youth and their families when it’s needed,” she said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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