COVID-19 and Children's Mental Health
Now it feels a bit more like we are all emerging out of this pandemic, it's starting to become known just how much this virus has affected our mental health and in particular, the mental health of our children.
The Pandemic has affected both mental and physical health in children
Studies carried out have so far indicated that the pandemic could have negative effects on both children’s physical and mental health, and yet parents do not have the appropriate mental health or counselling skills to help their children or themselves. These difficulties can be attributed, in part, to prolonged school closure, being separated from their peer groups and home containment.
The effects could be long term on children
Additionally, there is a fear that the psychological impact on children and adolescents could potentially be neglected, has exacerbating effects. Studies carried out showed how post traumatic stress scores were four times higher in Children who were quarantined, compared to children who weren't quarantined. This is quite a difference. This implies that, due to restrictions to routine lifestyle, some children may suffer psychosocial stress that can be caused by confinement. This can all add up to further harmful effects on a child’s physical and mental health.
Home confinement can be confusing for children
Home confinement restricts children from their normal lifestyles which has effects on their physical and mental health. As adults, we also need to consider the amount of exposure our children have to COVID-19 related news which could increase anxiety and panic, parents need to create direct conversations with children about these issues to avoid panic and reduce anxiety. This could be a great opportunity to develop close and open communication with children.
It’s also important that the Government recognise all of these factors and health authorities establish mental health teams to support children who may have been suffering throughout the pandemic.
Technology can be used to really help with any treatments
This could also be a really good opportunity for the government to look at utilising technology, media, mobile devices, and applications (WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and others) to reach out to the affected communities to provide psychological counselling to patients, as well as their families. Additionally, given that children are vulnerable to environmental risks that affect physical health, mental health, and future adult life performance, it’s important that what affects them now is addressed in order to avoid any long-term consequences to avoid an even bigger mental health crisis. Children are our future, let's look after them.