As information about the novel coronavirus unfolds, there can be a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Remember to recognize that everyone is having different responses and that over the next few days or weeks you may experience periods of:
- Difficulty concentrating and sleeping
- Anxiety, worry, panic
- Feeling helplessness
- Hyper-vigilance to your health and body
- Social withdrawal
There are many simple and effective ways to manage fears and anxieties. Many of them are essential ingredients for a healthy lifestyle; adopting them can help improve overall emotional and physical well-being.
Get the Facts
- Ask children what they have heard about COVID-19, and allow them to express feelings or concerns. Let them know it is okay to be afraid or mad and help them deal with those feelings.
- If children are watching television, watch with them, and be available to answer questions about things they see or hear on COVID-19.
- How to talk to kids about COVID-19 from the CDC.
- Latest COVID-19 from the Vermont Department of Health.
Keep Things in Perspective
- When children are uncertain or afraid, they need attention and affection more than ever. Make sure they feel safe and loved.
- Remember that your anxiety can be seen and felt by the young people around you. Model taking a break from watching the news to focus on the things that are positive in your life and things you have control over.
- Supporting your Children’s Social, Emotional, and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Stick to a Schedule
- Let kids know that any changes in routine are because adults at home or school are taking care of their health and safety.
- Keep activities as consistent and routine as possible in the home or childcare setting.
Be Mindful of Assumptions About Others
- Not everyone who has a cough or a fever necessarily has the virus.
- Self-awareness is important in not stigmatizing others in our community.
- Connect individual action to the common good by using a broad ‘us.’ A narrow focus on personal behaviors can prevent people seeing how the virus works. Use language and examples that emphasize collective action and shared outcomes.
- Avoid labels that suggest weakness or separation from society such as “vulnerable groups” as a blanket term. None of us like to think of ourselves as weak – so warnings to “the vulnerable” can be dismissed as intended for someone else. Use person-first phrasing instead.
- Avoid contact with others who are sick.
- Stay home while sick with any illness during this time.
- Staying healthy also includes behaviors such as eating well, sleeping well, and spending time outside.
- Stay in touch with friends, check-in with loved ones.
- Continuing social interaction even through phone, email and video can help maintain a sense of normalcy, and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.
Seek Additional Help
- Individuals who feel overwhelming worry or anxiety can seek additional professional mental health support.
- Crisis Textline Text: “Home” to 741741
- Pathways Vermont Support Line: Reach out to your neighbors, connect with your chosen family, and call or text the Pathways Vermont Support Line. Open from 3 PM to 6 AM. Connect with an operator by dialing (833) VT – TALKS / (833) 888 – 2557
- Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Reach out to the Vermont Network for support around domestic and sexual violence.
- Hunger Free Vermont offers excellent resources on how to access healthy food.