Every day, you and your patients hear the updates of the COVID-19 pandemic. The statistics are overwhelming to us adults, but children are especially feeling anxious. May 9 was National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, and this year it’s more important than ever to ensure the children in one’s life are doing well. Your patients shouldn’t be afraid to engage and encourage their children to have conversations around COVID-19. Here are some tips for your patients to remember when discussing COVID-19 with their children.
Remain calm and reassuring
Children can sense anxiety and will pick up information both from conversations they have and conversation they hear others having. Your patients should make themselves available to talk with their children and encourage them to ask questions.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma
Make sure your patients know that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. They should avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on TV, radio or online
Your patients might want to consider decreasing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. This may help to decrease anxiety, both for children and parents.
Provide information that is accurate and honest
Children should receive information that is developmentally and age appropriate. Encourage your patients to talk to their children about stories that may be on the internet and social media that may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?
If one of your patients suspects their child may have COVID-19, instruct them to call the child’s pediatrician. If the parent feels their child needs immediate assistance, urge them to call 911.
More information can be found on the CDC's website.
COVID-19 behavioral health toolkit
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, underscoring the important of mental health awareness during this turbulent time. Last week, we posted a collection of COVID-19 resources for providers, including a COVID-19 toolkit for behavioral health providers. This toolkit comes from our behavioral health partner, Optum, and is comprised of policy change information that is frequently updated.