I recently saw on social media a young boy who committed suicide and left a video for his family. My sister’s teenage daughter recently admitted to considering suicide. Mental health issues are on the rise. Experts predict that the Covid-19 lockdown is expected to affect the mental health of children.
We need to proactively ensure we are aware of our children’s mental health and are taking relevant action steps to improve it during the lockdown and school closure.
Here are some tips for parents to support children:
1. Maintain structure and routines: Make sure you are taking care of the basics just like you would during a spring break or summer vacation. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy. Planning daily walks can be a good way to create structure and ensure physical activity.
2. Be mindful of what your child sees or hears on television, radio, or online: Though it is normal now that screen time increases during these exceptional circumstances. Be aware that information intended for adults can cause anxiety or confusion, especially in young children. Help your child sort and look through the information on the internet/youtube then discuss it together.
3. Monitor their social media usage: Social media create a disillusion of the perfect life which is far from reality. Social media increases unhealthy comparison, feelings of FOMO, and can increase feelings of sadness and isolation. Not all social media is bad but monitor and control their usage
4. Stay connected: Its important you don’t encourage activities that promote isolation – watching TV by themselves for hours in their rooms or hiding out “doing stuff” in their room by themselves. Spend quality time with them – discuss their feelings. You might not agree with their feelings but acknowledge it and help them process it. Ask questions to gain a better understanding of their feelings. Also help them find ways to stay connected to other family members and friends during this time.
5. Seek expert help: If you notice your child is withdrawn/sad, doesn’t have an interest in a lot of their favourite activities and likes to stay on their own a lot – these just might be signs on mental health issues. Seek help especially if your child is not sharing their feelings and what is going on in their life with you.
6. Keep them active: Go for walks, let them play football if you have space, ride bicycles, or even arts and crafts indoors. Look for various fun activities both educational and non-educational that can help channel their minds and bodies to more positive. It can be learning how to cook, draw, or build something. Just keep them busy with fun and engaging activities
Everyone is going through unusual time and children are not exempted. Staying at home for this long without being able to go out is unprecedented.
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