Therapist offers advice regarding face masks and mental health

Nadi Paul, a senior therapist at the Center for Child Counseling, speaks to WPTV journalist Josh Navarro on Aug. 19, 2021.jpg
Posted at 4:32 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 18:01:10-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The rise in COVID-19 cases and mask mandate in schools feels like déjà vu for many who thought we finally got through the coronavirus pandemic.

But many are concerned about the well-being of students and the impacts it could have with the constant changes of mask rules in schools.

Mental health has been such a concern throughout the pandemic that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire page devoted to coping with COVID-19 stress on its website.

And now, with the mask debate in schools intensifying, it is raising concerns of some parents and the well-being of their kids.

"For each family, they should have the choice to make their decision," said Boca Raton paren Ashley Labbad.

Labbad has two children in the School District of Palm Beach County. She opted out of the mask mandate for her kids when the district gave that choice a couple of weeks ago.

But after the Palm Beach County School Board voted late Wednesday night to require masks and not allow students to opt out, Labbad said her kids will now do home school.

Labbad wants to avoid the stress from last school year.

"It was very stressful. Then her mask fell, or she felt like she needed to breathe because she was getting anxious from it. It was, put your mask back on, put your mask on. So to have someone yell at you like that constantly. It was really stressful. She came home many times upset about it," Labbad said.

"We do not know the impact of masks on children. We do not know the long-term impacts either," said Nadi Paul, a senior therapist at the Center for Child Counseling.

Paul said change is difficult for children, and transitions of any kind require quite a lot of mental processing skills, skills that children may not have fully developed yet, so patience is required.

"It is really important to communicate with them what the changes are. Give them the facts about what's happening. What's being required, what the actual change is and also giving them the opportunity to express their feelings," Paul said.

"She wears it all day in school for six hours," said parent David Derrico.

For Derrico, he has kept an open dialogue with this two school-aged children, letting them know the reasons behind school leader's decisions and said they have been more receptive in wearing a mask.

"In terms of mental health, I think they feel better wearing it, once I explained here's why we are doing this. Because there is this virus that is making some people very sick," Derrico said.

The Center for Child Counseling said there is no shame if you feel your child needs professional help. For more information, click here.