Let's not ignore the mental wellbeing of our young ones during Covid-19 pandemic

Dr Gaisie 900 Dr. Annie Gaisie

Fri, 8 May 2020 Source: Dr. Annie Gaisie

When our young ones are happy and healthy, we as adults experience a healthy mental wellness too.

It is a stressful and overwhelming time all round the world. During an event like the pandemic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we can all be affected differently. You might feel overwhelmed by the information, conversations and the increased levels of stress in your community, changes in family life and work. 

What most adults turn to pay less attention to, is our young ones. We most times turn to over-look their feelings and how they are coping with such change.

We tend to assume that as long as they have shelter, clothing and food, they are fine. Our behaviour turns to take the form similar to, a child being exposed to domestic abuse, as long as they are not directly being abused we assume they are okay. We overlook the impact of them witnessing the various events happening around them.

It can be difficult to know what information to trust, especially in a situation where things are changing so quickly. It can be helpful to keep up-to-date but it’s also okay to switch off from the 24 hour media cycle if this is getting too much.

During this time some things may change in a young person's life. They may be affected by attempts to contain the spread of the virus. They may have been looking forward to school events and time with friends. They may be affected by school, college, university or workplace temporarily closing.

Or may have a loved one who is directly affected by the virus.

It’s important to find the right level or type of support for them. And keep in mind that the type of support they may need can change as time passes.

For many young people, staying connected to family and friends is important. You can try new things like setting up a Whatsapp group or having a video type conversation so they can still feel part of the community they had before the Pandemic.

If you start to notice that your young ones are experiencing worry, stress or anxiety, it is important to remember that these are normal reactions to a not normal time.

During this time it is important to keep engaged with the activities that support yours and your children's wellbeing.

Tips to help support your young Ones:

Remember that young people will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others so try and remain calm at all times.

Make time to talk and listen. Ensure your young ones know they can come to you when they have questions.

Remember that Coronavirus can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, gender or age. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

Give your young ones information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level.

Talk to your young ones about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumours and inaccurate information.

Get young ones into a handwashing habit

Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. 

Make sure they have food available at all times. Its very easy for a young person to mentally link the pandemic to poverty and stavation. This could increase their level of anxiety.

Make sure you work from home if you can so your young ones can get access to you if they need to talk.

Make sure you have enough medication or a way to get more if needed, to reduce your young one's anxiety of not having enough supply.

Reassure them that any cancelled treatment or appointment will be sorted at the appropriate time.

Create a routine or timetable for yourself and support your young ones to have a routine too, to give them structure for the day. Make sure your daily routine includes basic indoor exercises and relaxation. Try and make your young ones stay at home fun and productive.

Look after yourself like you used to before the pandemic to avoid your young ones believing life is a disaster going forward.

By: Dr. Annie Gaisie, Psychologist - Addictive Behaviour.

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Columnist: Dr. Annie Gaisie