COVID has resulted in an emotional strain on all of us for various reasons. However, it is our children that will suffer the most serious consequences. Currently, one in eight children aged 5 to 19 years old has a diagnosable mental health condition.
Children report a feeling of being trapped at home, resulting in feelings of anxiety and depression.
Children are slowly getting back to school, but this does not mean everything is right again. Nothing is ‘normal’. There are different gates to enter through, masks to be worn, markers to stand on, no hot dinners, hands to be washed, sanitiser everywhere. And what if the schools close again?
The anxiety for children remains, the future is uncertain and the rules are constantly changing. Consistency and routine make us feel safe, so how can you as a professional, support children who are presenting with extreme emotional distress?
- Make the child your sole focus
- Validate what they are telling you
- Provide acceptance and support not judgement
- Don’t dismiss self-harm as attention-seeking
- Help them to recognise sharing their feeling with you as the first step of a difficult journey
- Identify clear next steps