So much attention has been given recently to COVID-19's impact on mental health, whether it's the fear of catching the virus or the depression brought on by isolation. But too often, we forget that kids are no more immune to these effects than adults. In fact, according to a review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, long stretch of social isolation may have a negative, long-term impact on children’s mental health.
Several recent articles provide tips for helping maintain children's mental health. The Times Daily focuses on communication - tell kids it's okay to be scared or nervous, but show them through actions that those feelings don't have to rule their lives. Michigan State University gives some helpful advice on maintaining structure throughout the day and helping kids feel involved in planning their own schedules. The Forest Lake Times advises balance - find a healthy mix of sleep, TV, puzzles, reading, etc. What all these articles share in common is regularity. It's good to give kids variety so that boredom doesn't set in, but a regular schedule will give kids something to count on, just like when they're in school.
Most importantly, though, is knowing when your child needs help. Sometimes, it's as simple as leading by example, like showing kids that just being outside isn't something to fear (in fact, studies have noted that increased vitamin D has been shown to decrease coronavirus symptoms). Other times, however, professional intervention may be necessary. "If worries are not letting your child live a regular life, it's worth thinking about a therapist or counselor," says psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Whalen.
Click the links embedded above for more information, or check out this site with some kid-friendly charts if you need scheduling ideas.
- Rapid Systematic Review: The Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in the Context of COVID-19
- Parents can help children deal with coronavirus-related anxiety | Local News | timesdaily.com
- Tending to young children’s mental health | MSUToday | Michigan State University
- Summer tips for children’s mental health | Opinion | hometownsource.com