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How Youth MHFA Can Help During and After COVID-19

COVID-19 is impacting people of all ages across the country, including children and youth. Kids are not attending classes, participating in extracurricular activities, or seeing their friends in the same way they once did — and it’s taking a toll on their emotional and mental well-being.

In May, a Gallup Panel poll found 29% of parents of school-aged children said their children were “already experiencing harm to their emotional or mental health because of social distancing and closures.” And nearly half of parents surveyed said their child was already experiencing harm to their emotional and mental health because of separation from their classmates and teachers.

Whether your state or school is currently using remote learning or is beginning to meet in person, it’s critical to consider the effects this difficult time may have on your child’s mental and emotional health. Use your skills as a Mental Health First Aider to help your kids during and after this pandemic.

These tips from Youth Mental Health First Aid will help you support your child and family as you navigate COVID-19.

  1. Talk to your kids about COVID-19. Your kids may be worried, confused or scared about what is happening around the world. It’s important to have open conversations with them, answer their questions, and reassure them that they are safe.
  2. Understand adolescent development. Adolescence is a time of change and self-discovery and can include physical, mental, social, and emotional changes. It can be helpful to gain basic knowledge about what this life phase means to a young person and the potential impact COVID-19 and all its ramifications can have on their life.
  3. Recognize signs and symptoms of a developing mental health challenge. Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches adults about common signs and symptoms of a mental health or substance use challenge. Having this information can help you distinguish between a mental health challenge or disorder or typical adolescent changes.
  4. Encourage self-care. Kids don’t always know how to communicate changes in feeling and emotion or what they may need. Encouraging self-care activities for your child or family as a whole can help them take care of their mental health during and after COVID-19.
  5. Remember that it’s OK to not be OK. This is a stressful time for everyone, and it is important to remember that any feelings of worry, fear, or anxiety you (or your children) may have are normal. It’s OK to not be OK, and it’s important to take care of your own or your child’s mental health.

If your child consistently appears more angry or sad than usual, consider reaching out to a mental health professional or seeking online therapy. With the right information and resources, we can #BeTheDifference for the children and youth in our lives during and after COVID-19.

Learn more about how you can #BeTheDifference with Youth Mental Health First Aid.