Over the last eight months, many of us have taken on new roles and responsibilities at home and with the kids and young people in our lives.
We have become playmates, activity planners, algebra teachers and tutors. It has not been easy but we did it without hesitation; however, one role that may be the hardest and the one we avoid is counselor. It is important that we not only encourage our children academically and physically but also support them socially and emotionally.
How can each of us help someone who is experiencing anxiety and stress? The answer is simple:
- Be attentive – check in with a child and ask, “How was your day?” “What did you learn today? “Tell me one thing special that happened today?”
- Call or text someone to check in on how they are doing.
- Listen. You do not have to have all the answers. Often, it helps to just be heard.
The short- and long-term effects of uncertainty, isolation and students being out of school for a long period of time are just starting to surface. Early research worldwide on effects related to COVID-19 indicate that children and adolescents are experiencing an increase in anxiety (37%), depression (31%) and suicidal ideation (6%). Overall, the increase in mental health issues in youth are mild (30.5%), moderate (19.3%) and severe (7.2%).
Developing strong, positive mental health