COVID-19 has ravaged our world. In New Jersey alone, more than 184,000 cases of coronavirus have been recorded, leaving more than 14,000 people dead. While very few of these deaths have been our children (less than 0.4%,) our youths and community are still suffering in countless and terrible unforeseen ways (1).
Isolation, unemployment, and fear has gripped families in our state for months, leaving us tired, frustrated, and anxious. With the end of summer and the beginning of school fast approaching, parents and children are being thrown into a whole new dilemma. While parents ask themselves questions regarding the safety of their children and whether they can afford keeping them home, children face their own mental crises.
“Will I get to see my friends again?” they ask, “Why can’t I go to school like normal?” “I can’t focus at home! How will I pass my classes?” “This isn’t fair!” “Will I miss my senior prom?” “I’m afraid I’ll get my teachers sick!” “I don’t want to get sick!” “I don’t want my parents to get sick!”
“I’m afraid I might die.”
School During Coronavirus: Huge Changes
With decisions about guidelines for mandatory face masks, in-school instruction vs online school vs hybrid school still going on in N.J., it’s no small wonder that school age children (and even college age young adults) are facing some extreme mental stress. And when parents are at a loss for answers, it’s hard to give comfort to your kids.
Nobody is immune to anxiety or stress. Young people’s lives have suddenly become unstructured, unbalanced and thrown into complete turmoil. One of the main institutions that gave routine to so many toddlers, adolescents, teenagers and young adults is now no longer a constant in their lives.
“I worry that kids will get a double wallop,” says Ezra Golberstein, a health-policy researcher at the University of Minnesota. “There’s the disease itself and the fear of it. On top of that, you’ve got the lock-downs, with kids removed from the school environment and their friends.” Already studies from China have shown that roughly 20% of children who were quarantined for a relatively short amount of time (about 34 days,) reported symptoms of depression and anxiety (2).
Whether left at home to struggle with learning remotely, outside of their familiar classroom setting with friends alongside, or back at school with the fear of infection or lockdown, most children this fall will be facing some sort of mental stress. We owe it to our children to help them through these insecure times. So what can we do?
How Therapy Can Help Your Child During Coronavirus
Your child was not meant to tackle the effects of COVID-19 alone, and neither were you as a parent. Therapy can help support your child’s mental health as they return to school and offer the extra bit of structure we all need in this seemingly insecure world.
Therapy is an opportunity for your child to navigate their feelings about returning to school and about the changes in the world around them. For both children that have an existing mental illness and for those that are displaying new symptoms, consistent therapy is an excellent way for individuals to learn coping skills that will help them grow in the future.
For example, if your child is expressing anxious thoughts about coronavirus and going back to school, visiting with a therapist would allow them the opportunity to express their concerns and have them validated. Additionally, they would be given tools, such as breathing techniques, journaling prompts, activities to practice (such as connecting with peers regularly in safe ways) and resources to build healthy habits.
While you may never have considered therapy for your child before, know that these are unprecedented times and that there is nothing shameful about seeking help (for you or your child.) It may be tempting to put what may seem like “just anxiety” on the back burner, but know that it’s difficult for children to carry these feelings that can grow and become more debilitating later on.
Olive Branch Therapy Group is Here for Parents and Children
Therapy provides the stability children of all ages need now in order to preserve their mental health. As parents ourselves, we understand how hard it has been for our children to understand and deal with the current world. We also understand how hard it has been for you as a parent, juggling work, homelife, your children and your own selfcare. We are offering virtual sessions which are confidential and convenient.
Know that here at Olive Branch Therapy Group we are here for you and your children. We have dedicated therapies for:
Our clinical team is here to provide structure and peace of mind during these turbulent times. If you have any questions about how therapy can be beneficial for your child during coronavirus, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can learn more about how we can help you during the pandemic here.
Click here for more information on trauma therapy.
Remember, we will get through this together.