For more than 65 years, May has been obsserved by organizations such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America ( MHA) have reserved the Month of May to bring emphaze and bring awareness to mental health. Mental health is important all year, but the month of May gives the opportunity come together to show support. During the pademic of COVID 19 coronavirus mental health awareness month takes on a slightly different meanting perhaps.
The new, often stressful realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling children, and the lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and collegues can be overwhelming. Fear and anxiety about the changes and the COVID 19 coronavirus cause strong emotions in adults and children.
Here are some things to look for in yourself and others:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Fortunately, there are things that we can do to take care of our own mental health and help those around us that might need more support. Below are some ideas from WHO and the CDC
- Take time aways from the news. Reduce the amount of time that is spent watching, reading or listening to the news.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Take a moment. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Even though we might not be able to get together with our family or friends, as social beings, it is important that we stay connected to others. Make use of Zoom, Facetime or the phone.
- Have a routine. Keep up with daily routines as far as possible, or make new ones.
- Get up and go to bed at similar times every day.
- Keep up with personal hygiene.
- Eat healthy meals at regular times.
- Exercise regularly.
- Allocate time for working and time for resting.
- Make time for doing things you enjoy.
Stress can look different in your child. Somt things to watch for include:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Supporting your child
- Maintain familiar routines as much as possible, or create new ones, especially if you must stay at home.
- Talk with your children and teens about COVID 19 coronavirus in an honest way, using age-appropriate language.
- Answer any questions that they might have about COVID 19.
- Help children find positive ways to express feelings such as fear and sadness. Sometimes engaging in a creative activity, such as playing or drawing, can help you with this process.
- Help children stay in contact with friends and family members through telephone and online channels.
- Make sure that your children have time away from screens every day and spend time doing off-line activities together. Do something creative: draw a picture, write a poem, build something. Bake a cake. Sing or dance, or play in your garden, if you have one.
If you feel like you are experiencing stress or other symptoms that you are not able to cope with, please reach out to your local thearpist.