Post-Pandemic Challenges Among Children and Adolescents
Children and adolescents continue to face challenges due to the ongoing health, economic, and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This demographic has been uniquely impacted by the pandemic, having experienced this crisis during critical periods of physical, social, and emotional development, with some experiencing the loss of loved ones. The pandemic also caused disruptions in routines and social isolation for children, which can be associated with anxiety and depression and may have implications for mental health later in life.
The Challenges We See
While among the elementary school children, the whole idea of peer interaction and socialization needed intervention in the form of SEL (Social, emotional learning) Groups, among adolescents, there seemed to be a lack of motivation or a “why try” attitude, or even at times, a sense of hopelessness.
The challenges were seen among all school ages, showing up differently.
Building Resilience: Tools and Strategies for Nurturing Children's Coping Skills
Some helpful tools during the challenging period and after include teaching coping skills, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, art, sports, and engaging children and adolescents through play therapy.
Cognitive coping is a beneficial strategy for all children. We can teach them that although we cannot always control what happens or happened in the past, we can control how we think about it. This often decreases children’s feelings of helplessness and empowers them to feel some control over the impact of particular situations or events.
Sound mental health is vital for children and adolescents’ healthy and happy development. Mental well-being primarily includes three crucial aspects of a healthy life: emotional, psychological, and social.
Our state of mental health impacts our thoughts, feelings, and actions at all the developmental stages, from infancy to adulthood. And if there are healthy coping skills that the child or adolescent has, they would be able to deal with the challenges in a positive way.
Key Principles for Supporting Children's Mental Health
It is important to remember that we should provide the support and tools needed for children to thrive in their environment as parents and caregivers.
Some ways of supporting them may include:
- Having a warm and accepting environment at home.
- Establishing the need for mental healthcare.
- Assisting them in accessing a mental healthcare professional.
- Providing unconditional support and care.
- Being empathetic and non judgmental.
Prioritizing the Needs of Children and Families
Implementing treatment in the aftermath of a traumatic experience, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, requires thoughtful consideration of the overall needs of children and their families and potential barriers to treatment that may make therapeutic engagement challenging.
Recognizing these priorities and providing support to the resources is an essential strategy that would be helpful for families that have been dealing with the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about.