It’s all about the family when it comes to COVID stressors, mental health struggles in kids

Children and Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic and its constant changes as scientists learn more about the virus has been tiring for all of us.

For children, the constant transitions between in-person learning, quarantine, virtual learning, and then back to in-person learning have created added stress in an already challenging environment.

Professional Counselor James Taylor said one of his school-aged clients spent several weeks making the transition regularly. In fact, Taylor said they spent the entire first quarter of this school year and then some going into quarantine, coming out of it, then going right back into it.

With all that time spent at home, Dr. Heath Penland from North Alabama Psychiatric Associates said the family has become even more important.

Taylor said there are several ways parents can help their kids be comfortable around the house during all these transitions.

“[It’s} extremely important to kind of continue that structure and routine right now [that children had before the pandemic].”

And as far as deeper conversations are concerned, such as job loss, a death/sickness in the family, or financial issues, among other serious topics, Taylor said honesty is key.

“I think being straightforward and honest with trials is important, and just asking, ‘Hey, what’s, what’s going on here,'” he explained. “Children are very resilient, you know; they can handle the stuff that we tell them as adults; they look to us for guidance and direction. I think it starts with making sure that [parents are] in good spots when talking to kids about mental health.”

Penland added that resuming some semblance of normalcy can be a family affair as businesses re-open and events slowly return.

“Start meeting other families and go out just to events or to church,” he suggested.

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