Helping children and adolescents during COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought some fresh challenges for children and adolescents. Not only do these challenges have an impact on their health and wellbeing, they also have the potential to affect their familial relationships and friendships.

It is important to keep in mind the ways in which we can support the adolescents and children in our lives through this time.

In last Thursday’s Employee Forum, Dr David Moseley, ELMHS Psychology Discipline Senior with experience in child and adolescent mental health, encouraged parents not to shy away from sharing appropriate information about the current climate with their children.

“It is really important to talk to them and give them honest, good information about health risk. Be clear, describe to them what is known and what is not known. Try to be honest but in a basic way that is appropriate to their developmental level,” Dr Moseley said.

In many cases, young people may not realise the new challenges they face, which can include less confidence with schoolwork, more screen time, and less physical activity. These challenges have the potential to negatively impact both the physical and mental health of children and adolescents.

Dr Moseley went on to explain some signs of increased stress to look out for, including prolonged periods of intense distress, unusual behaviour changes, and impaired functioning. However, Dr Moseley also reiterated that it is normal for children to express frustration and anxiety.

“It’s okay for young people to let off some steam, just as it is okay for us as adults to do so. It is healthy to express those feelings, and then we want to see young people able to calm down and move on.”

In order to help them through this time, and any anxiety or stress they may be feeling, Dr Moseley provided some tips, including:

  • Reassuring your child that your family is your top priority – use clear language and let them know you will get through this time together.
  • Take care of yourself – self-care is important for both adults and children.
  • Let your children know when it is a good time to talk – as healthcare workers, finding time to talk to your children can be difficult.
  • Try to maintain everyday routines – structure contains distress.

You can watch or download Dr Moseley’s presentation at any time.

There are number of online resources to help you support children during this time, and services such as Beyond Blue and Reach Out which are targeted towards adolescents. The Victorian Government has also launched a new digital mental health platform for young people called MOST, which will be progressively rolled out across the state.

It is also equally as important to look after yourself so that you are in a stronger position to support your family and loved ones. There are resources available on the Monash Health coronavirus website to support your mental health and emotional wellbeing at this time.

Thursday’s employee forums on Webex, will continue to have a health and wellbeing focus. They will be promoted on the home page of the coronavirus website for employees and if you cannot make the 2pm sessions, you can always go back and listen to them at a time that suits you.

Approved by Karen Lowe, 20 July 2020 

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