Mental health care of children in COVID- 19 COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has caused tremendous loss around the globe. People faced financial and personal losses; there had been a scarcity of resources and services. Even till date people are living with a sense of uncertainty. And all this has contributed to a huge pressure on Healthcare system, especially a huge increase in mental health cases.
According to some studies during pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019. How can we imagine happy children with disturbed parents? Yes, all this had a huge impact on psychosocial and mental development of children, many of who don't even know what is meant by a virus or lockdown.
Adults always have a number of work and commitments to keep themselves busy and equipped; on the other hand children have limited options, of which many got eliminated cause of the lockdown and COVID restrictions. All this, firstly took over their peer support where they used to open their heart, used to laugh and fight, things which were easy and enjoyable to learn became confusing and boring through online learning, many lost their close buddies, i.e. their grandparents and some even their parents, which brought a sense of insecurity a huge blow to their mental health.
Some days back I met a teen girl who lost her Granny in the second wave of COVID-19 with whom she spent most of her time. Her uncle told me that since her Granny's demise, she has restricted herself to her room only. After spending some time with her, I observed that she is in depression. I told her family members to immediately start working on certain things. Given below are certain tips which can help sail through this tough time and take care of mental health of our children.
1. Firstly, always give first priority to physical fitness, and then mental health can automatically be tuned up. In morning, make all family members practice Yoga, Pranayaam, Aerobics or simple warm-up exercise. If you have a terrace, balcony or open space to practice then it will be best, as fresh air and proper sunlight keeps a lot of psychological ailments away and enhance positivity.
2. Try to follow consistent routine for each and every activity. From morning exercise, breakfast, lunch, studies, games to dinner. This helps in proper channelling of energy.
3. If you are working, take the support of family, communicate about your work and then make arrangements accordingly. But yes, don't cut from family time.
4. Listen, Listen, Listen children love to have big listening ears with proper attention, and a big loving heart. Listen, to their concerns, fears, and anxieties and explain them things calmly. Somewhere, I read kids don't want successful parents, they want happy parents, and I found it true as well!!
5. Engage your kids in age appropriate activities get them related books, art & craft, science kits, or recipe book. A good book is the best gift one can have. Make your kids fall in love with books. You can even make them write their own stories.
6. Teach them age related skills as well, like cooking, managing money matters, learning first aid, organizing their room, contributing to managing chores like laundry, cleaning and cooking. This will make them self-efficient and will add to their confidence as well.
7. To cover academics, focus on making concepts clear, then the theory can easily be covered.
8. Keep them away from tabloid news and check out if they are having any fears. Teach them the most important life skills, i.e. coping with stress, coping with emotions, and problem-solving. Remember, you are their 'Role-model'.
9. You can even make them participate in certain social activities like, feeding stray animals, generating support for poor or needies, spreading awareness about present situation as Mask Up, Social distancing, Sanitisation etc., this will clear their concept as well as give them a sense of responsibility also.
10. Somewhere, you may find certain changes or behaviours which you feel are not good, then also don't react immediately, if it can be ignored, then ignore or give them an alternative way or tell them indirectly. Still, if changes seem mysterious then immediately contact counsellor or mental health expert. So, stay healthy and stay connected.