Supporting Your Family’s Mental Health Needs During COVID-19
Posted on April 10th, 2020 to Uncategorized
By Jordan Palker, MSW
The times we are living in are like nothing we have experienced before. There is an immense new fear and anxiety that this disease has brought into our lives and the lives of those we love. We have all experienced so many changes in just a short amount of time–changes in routine, in livelihood, the list goes on and on. We are all trying to find our new normal and settle into our new world. Now of all times we must take care of our mental health, but how do you take care of both your own and your children’s mental health?
First and foremost, parents, it is important for your mental health needs to be met in order to be in the best space to meet your children’s mental health needs. We all know the metaphor: secure your oxygen mask before helping others. Mental wellness needs to be a priority right now for parents. In a recent Blog post by Building Bright Futures they stated, “Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury. With children home, and stress running high, it’s more important than ever.” Taking care of ourselves is not a luxury, right now it’s an essential need.
Below are some ideas on how we can take care of ourselves, as well as our children during these challenging times. I have also outlined some community resources for when professional support may be needed. All of us at Lakeside Pediatrics are always here to support your physical, and mental health needs so please call our office at any time to support you and your family!
- Get back into a routine! Routines are an important part to finding our new normal, whatever that is right now. Get creative and fun with your routine. Check out some of our previous facebook posts for some ideas.
- Ensure you are fitting some fresh air, sunshine and exercise into this routine!
- Keep social connections alive for you and your children. Schedule virtual playdates via skype, zoom, facetime, etc. with friends and family for both you and your children.
- Check in with yourself and your children regularly. Validate that however they are feeling is ok. Encourage them to share and don’t be afraid to share how you are feeling. Kids are smart and can often read how we adults are feeling. Be prepared to share if they ask.
- Limit exposure to news depending on how old your children are. It’s important that children understand what is going on, but at an age appropriate level. There are a lot of resources for explaining COVID19 online right now as well. Check out the book that Dr. Hagan shared a few weeks back on Facebook.
Take a break from the news. I know it’s hard to avoid, but I know for myself when I engage in too much media it can overwhelm me.
- Take care of your body. Eat well, drink water, brush your teeth, wash your face, don’t stop doing the usual stuff!
- Self care and coping skills in general look very different from person to person. Whatever it is that makes you feel good, DO IT!
Do things with your kids that make them feel good. Try incorporating your kids into things you enjoy if you aren’t able to take some kid free time for yourself, like yoga, meditation, your morning workout. There are lots of free resources right now for these sorts of things!
- Be aware of changes in your children’s behaviors, such as changes in their mood. being more withdrawn, changes in sleep or appetite, etc. You know your children best and you know their normal. Be attentive and keep an extra eye on them right now.
If you are noticing changes acknowledge them and name them. This will help you talk to your child about how they are feeling.
- Be careful of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as consuming more alcohol or engaging in other activities that usually make things more challenging in the long term.
- When you need a break, take a break if you can. We are all doing the best we can right now! Now is not the time for parenting guilt. Cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. Most parents are likely having these EXACT same feelings.
Sometimes we need to be creative with how we take a quick break: Take a shower, take the trash out, vacuum, meditate, write a list of 10 things you are grateful for, send a letter to a friend, diffuse some essential oils, sew a cloth face covering mask.
If there is one thing you take away from this list, I hope you know you are not alone in however you are feeling right now! Let’s be kind to ourselves, take care of ourselves and make the best of this situation. And if you need extra support financially, mentally, physically, spiritually it is out there. See below for some of those resources.
For general information:
Lakeside Pediatrics: 860-1928
To reach me, Jordan Palker dial 860-1928 ext 114
Give us a call anytime to check in or brainstorm next steps for your child.
Vermont 211: Can be utilized by dialing 211 on your phone or going to their website. They offer a comprehensive list of supports and resources throughout Vermont.
For mental or behavioral health emergencies:
First Call of Chittenden County: 488-7777
First Call of Franklin County: 524-6554
If your child is experiencing a mental health crisis contact First Call.
In the case of an emergency dial 911
Howard Center Access & Intake: 488-6000
Howard Center Partners for Access: 488-7474
Can support your family in connecting with an outpatient mental health clinician.
Centerpoint Adolescent Services: 488-7711
Can support your adolescent in connecting with an outpatient mental health clinician.
Crisis Text Line: Text “VT” to 741741 OR call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Sprc.org/covid.19 Suicide Prevention Resource Center with resources regarding supporting Mental Health during COVID19.