Many of us have been emotional over the past few weeks, experiencing the slow ascent of stress, tipping over the edge into nerve-wracking anxiety and bottoming out in anger and gloom. We cannot imagine what is going to happen, because of course the Covid 19 pandemic changed everything from geopolitics to individual human behavior so it is kind of hard to think of it right now. Nevertheless, the best thing we are able to do is to focus on the journey we are facing right now.
The children are likely to be experiencing anxiety, fear and worry. This is able to include the types of fears which are very similar to those experienced by adults, such as a fear of dying, a fear of their relatives dying, or a fear of what it means to get medical treatment. If the schools have closed as part of necessary measures, so the children may no longer have that sense of structure and stimulation which is provided by that environment. Now, they have less opportunity to be with their friends and get that social support which is essential for good mental health.
By the way, what could the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis be on the children’s mental health? Actually, this is indeed an unprecedented time for all of us, particularly for children who face an enormous disruption to their lives. The children are likely to be experiencing anxiety, worry, and fear. As we explain before, this can include the types of fears that are extremely similar to those experienced by adults, such as a fear of dying, a fear of their relatives dying, or a fear of what it means to get medical treatment. We all know that if all schools have closed as part of necessary measures, the children may no longer have that sense of structure and stimulation which is provided by the environment. Right now they have less chances to be with their friends and receive that social support which is essential for good mental health.
Based on the research, being at home will be able to place some children at increased risk of, or increased exposure to, if their home is not a safe place. This is something which is very concerning. Even though all children are perceptive to change, young children may discover the changes that have taken place are difficult to understand, and both young and older children may express irritability. The children may discover that they are going to be closer to their parents, make more demands on them. Some parents may be under pressure themselves.
The simple strategies which can solve this can include giving young people the love and attention that they need to resolve their fears. Being honest with the children and explaining what is happening in a way that they will be able to understand, even if they are still young. The children are so perceptive and will follow how to respond from their carers. Also, the parents need to be supported in managing their own stressors so that they are able to be models for their children. Helping children to discover ways to express themselves through creative activities, and giving structure in the day, if that is possible through establishing routines, especially if they are not going to school anymore, it can be beneficial. Mental health and psychosocial support services must be in place, and the child protection services have to adapt to make sure that the care is still available for the children of families who need it.
Talking about this, we think that we also need to inform you about the psychological impact of this disease on the elderly. Regarding older people and those with underlying health conditions, having been identified as more vulnerable to COVID-19 disease. They are very vulnerable, and can be extremely frightening and very fear-inducing. The psychological impacts for these populations are able to include anxiety and feeling stressed/angry. Its impact is able to be particularly difficult for older people who may be experiencing cognitive decline/dementia. Some older people may already be isolated socially and experiencing loneliness that can worsen their mental health.
There are lots of things that older people can initiate themselves or with the support of a carer to protect their mental health at this time. These include lots of the strategies that we are advocating across the entire population, such as doing physical activity, keeping to routines, and engaging in activities that give a sense of achievement. Also, maintaining social connections is very important. Some older people may be familiar with digital ways and others may need guidance in how to use them. Once again, the mental health and psychosocial support services which are relevant to this population should remain available at this time.
There can be a wide range of reactions and emotions which you experience with everything going on related to COVID‑19 pandemic. At any given time, you may experience periods of:
- Anxiety, panic or worry.
- Difficulty concentrating and sleeping.
- Feeling confused or helpless.
- Social withdrawal.
- Overexposure to the media.
- Hyper-vigilance related to your health.
- Curiosity, excitement, and relief.
FEELINGS OF GRIEF AND LOSS
Grief and loss are common feelings right now. They may continue as this pandemic continues. There are lots of things we may be grieving at the moment:
- Cancellation of the celebrations and trips.
- Loss of academic or professional momentum.
- Lack of physical contact.
- Inability to be close to loved ones.
- Loss of autonomy and personal freedom.
- Loss of a job or income.
TIPS TO MANAGE COMMON REACTIONS AND FEELINGS
- You have to practice mindfulness and acceptance. Please focus on asking “what now” rather than “why.” Also, practice patience with yourself and others. You need to let things unfold and assume others are trying to do the right thing.
- You are able to find the activities that give you a sense of mastery, even simple tasks such as making your bed, going for a walk, checking in on a friend, or practicing a new skill or hobby.
- Always practice a mindset of gratitude. You are able to spend time each day thinking about 3 things you are grateful for.
- Always stay connected. Maintaining social networks are able to help maintain a sense of normalcy and give valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.