COVID-19: How To Reduce The Long-Term Impact on Children’s Mental Health

Over the past six months, the novel coronavirus has turned the world upside down. Familiar routines and schedules came to an unprecedented halt almost overnight. The uncertainty of the situation and changes in routine have caused many children – and parents – to feel stressed and anxious. Now, as we head into a new school year, it’s more important than ever to address the emotional impact of COVID-19 in children and teens.

Understanding Resiliency In Children

Mental health problems are expected to rise dramatically as a secondary effect of COVID-19. The disruptions and closures of schools and activities have only added to the mental distress children and teens are experiencing during the pandemic.

It’s important to remember that children aren’t equipped with the life experience or brain development to fully comprehend the impact of a global health crisis. Unfortunately, many people think children are uniquely resilient. There’s a misconception that they’re able to bounce back from whatever life throws their way.

“Children and teens thrive out of consistency and stability. They really struggle without routine and knowing what to expect which can lead to a lot of anxiety that may present itself in temper tantrums, isolation, and irritability. They are also incredibly attentive to the environment around them and model what they see caregivers and other adults in their life do. If we panic and do not manage our own stress during this pandemic, our children are going to follow suit,” said Veronica Calkins a psychotherapist and licensed Clinical Social Worker. “Young children and teens may be unable to verbalize distress and discomfort during these challenging times making it essential for parents to check in.”

Find What Works For YOUR Family

As we head into a new school year amid COVID-19, remember that every family is different. What works for your neighbor might not be a good fit for your family. Everyone reacts differently. Some families might make a smooth transition into new routines while others may struggle trying to balance work and home duties.

Remember that young children may be unable to verbalize their distress and discomfort. Parents and caregivers of young children should watch for signs and symptoms of anxiety that can show up as increased moodiness, irritability, clinginess, or behavioral regression.

Some children may experience intense sadness or anger, others may be withdrawn or act as if nothing has occurred. For teens, abrupt changes and social isolation can aggravate signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Parents should always communicate openly and allow teens to express their feelings. Open conversations provide empowerment for teens as they’re able to label and validate their feelings during these challenging times.

Watch Out For Signs and Symptoms of Mental Distress

Even though you can’t control the spread of a global pandemic, there are things you can do to help your family move forward in health and happiness. Try setting aside a specific time for you to talk with your children about what’s going on in the world. Provide a safe space for them to discuss their feelings.

Utilize distractions and relaxation techniques to help them adapt to the ‘new normal’. Remember that children who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders need extra support during this time. Children with depression have the tendency to isolate which is made even easier during an era of social distancing. Be sure to include your child in family activities like dinners and walks together. It’s essential to keep them engaged!

All of the stress surrounding COVID-19 can exacerbate children’s feelings and symptoms. It’s difficult for parents to distinguish between sadness and clinical depression or anxiety. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support! The mental health of your family is just as important as your physical health.

Our convenient telepsychiatry services allow you discuss the mounting pressures of parenting during COVID-19 from the comfort of your home. We understand the additional stress and anxiety you might be facing during these challenging times.

It’s OK to not be OK. Our compassionate team is here to help you start your journey to mental wellness. Contact Us Today