COVID-19 and Mental Health

 In 2022, Tip of the Week

In last week’s safety tip, (linked here if you have not read it), we discussed the issue of suicide, brought to light by the sudden death of Naomi Judd. May is Mental Health Awareness month. A concern for mental health professionals is the impact that COVID-19 has had on the mental health of our children and adolescents. Read the following examples from the experts:

In a recent article, Dr. John Walkup, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Northwestern University, said, “COVID’s had a big impact, but it hasn’t caused people to become mentally ill. It has unmasked those with mental health issues who were held together through the support systems that were dismantled during COVID-19.”

You can read the full article here:
https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2022/04/walkup-youth-mental-health/

Dr. Ariel Horvitz, a leading Clinical Psychologist specializing in child and adolescent studies was quoted in an article on Yahoo news as saying, “Over the last two years, COVID-19 has proven to have a dynamic influence on mental wellness. This is especially true for children and adolescents who are navigating developmental and educational milestones during a time of fluctuation and uncertainty. Unfortunately, this has led to an increase in mental health concerns ranging from anxiety, depression, academic difficulties, such as grief and loss.”

The full article is linked here:
https://www.yahoo.com/news/dad-daze-providing-support-children-020300470.html

This is a disturbing issue. We all agree on that. So, what can we do to help? We have some ideas for you. Anxiety and depression are just two of the many mental disorders that people, especially our youth, deal with. Here are a few ideas for those more common concerns:

For someone experiencing anxiety:

If they are in the middle of an anxiety attack, use the 3-3-3 rule. Have them name 3 things they can see. Then, have them list 3 things they can hear. Lastly, have them move 3 parts of their body, such as their fingers, toes, arms, etc. This will help them to center and calm their mind.

https://adultmentalhealth.org/managing-and-reducing-anxiety/

Validate, rather than minimize, their experience. If you don’t have an anxiety disorder, do not offer advice. Instead, listen to them. Tell them you’re there for them, ask how you can help and listen to what they have to say.

https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/mind/mental-health/what-say-and-not-say-someone-anxiety

When dealing with someone with depression:

Helping doesn’t have to be a huge, drastic effort. It can be as simple as picking up a phone, sharing a meal, or driving them to an appointment. If you are unsure of what to say, phrases that can help are:

How can I help today?
I have not been where you are, but you are important to me. You are not alone.
That sounds really hard. How are you coping?

https://www.healthline.com/health/what-to-say-to-someone-with-depression#what-to-say

All these recommendations center on communication. BringChange2Mind.org is a non-profit mental health awareness organization that was founded by actress and mental health activist Glenn Close, who’s family includes those dealing with mental health disorders. They have released the following video to highlight the importance of communication following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please listen to this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVrD7W_233w

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