How are your kids mentally handling COVID?
In March 2020, COVID-19 shut down businesses, forced remote work and changed the way we think and act about viruses. In the beginning of this world-wide pandemic, the focus was more on the physical side of COVID and how to avoid getting infected. We washed our groceries, socially distanced and avoided being indoors whenever possible. Wearing masks or face coverings became a requirement, as did more frequent handwashing. Some of these practices seemed foreign or invasive to many people. And many lives were lost due to catching COVID.
Fast forward two years later. We now have vaccines and have been through several different COVID strain variants that have demanded ramped-up protocols to prevent widespread infections. Life has slowly returned to some semblance of normal when it comes to social gatherings, schools, eating out and other pre-COVID activity. Mask mandates are dwindling, as are the fears of dying from COVID. But for those who have been trying their best to avoid COVID over this timeframe, the emotional toll has been one that can be hard to cope with. “Pandemic fatigue” or “COVID fatigue” is a real thing.
What is pandemic fatigue? Defined by The World Health Organization (WHO) as being “demotivated” and exhausted with the demands of life during the COVID crisis, COVID fatigue could lead to a longer, more devastating pandemic. And the fact is, COVID fatigue is natural.
COVID fatigue can affect children and young people directly and indirectly. Besides getting physically sick, many young people’s social, emotional, and mental well-being also has been impacted over the past two years. The mental health of children during COVID can be traumatic and can continue to affect children for the rest of their lives.
Some of the challenges children and young people face during the COVID-19 pandemic relate to:
- Routine changes: having to physically distance from family, friends, classmates, etc.
- Disruptions in learning: being forced out of the classroom and into virtual learning environments, and having to endure all the technology issues that come with it
- Disruptions in routine health care: missing well-child and immunization visits, having limited access to mental, speech, and occupational health services, etc.
- Missing life events: not being able to attend celebrations, canceling vacation plans, and/or missing milestone events like graduation ceremonies
- A loss of security and safety: housing and food insecurity, more exposure to online violence and harm, threat of catching COVID and what that type of future would bring. When things are unpredictable, people often feel they have no control over their lives
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) developed a COVID-19 Parental Resource Kit to help support parents, caregivers, and other adults serving children and young people in recognizing children and young people’s social, emotional, and mental health challenges and helping to ensure their well-being.