The current spread of COVID-19 has impacted all of us in multiple ways, including mental health and wellness. As providers caring for some of Illinois’ most vulnerable, you may observe fear, worry, or other signs of distress in children and families. Be sure to assess what they know and how they are coping regardless of their behavior.
Both news and social media coverage of the outbreak can be a source of misinformation and anxiety for families. As with other health care issues, accurate information is key. Educate parents and children about the facts and myths associated with an infectious disease outbreak. Encourage families to have age appropriate discussions as children may imagine scenarios worse than the reality. Encourage parents to limit their family’s exposure to media surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19. Below are resources for talking to children about the pandemic
Pay special attention to patients and families that may already be struggling with anxiety or other mental health issues. Emphasize to children that adults at home and school are working to protect them. Help parents identify signs of fear in their children and educate them about how stress and anxiety manifest in the body. If you are concerned that a child’s anxiety is worsening, call DocAssist to learn about screening tools and treatment approaches.
Assist parents with identifying ways to relieve stress for themselves and their family members. Children often react to the verbal and nonverbal cues of the adults around them; thus, it is important for parents to model appropriate reactions and behaviors. The DocAssist website has information on apps that can be downloaded for anxiety relief. Or visit Psyberguide, a free website that provides information about the credibility, transparency and user experience of mental health apps. Parents and caregivers can also contact the SAMSHA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUS to 66746. Trained counselors are available to assist with stress and anxiety.