Mental Health in Children and Families
Written By: Janet Lebeau, Law Clerk This pandemic has been a unique and unsettling experience for just about everyone. Many issues have arisen that we may not have considered when we first learned about COVID-19. We have been bombarded by information from a variety of media outlets and government, and most of us have been confused about how to digest everything. In my opinion, one of the most challenging aspects of this pandemic has been managing our wellbeing and mental health, and the wellbeing and mental health of our children. Some parents are trying to work from home and home-school their children at the same time. I cannot imagine how difficult that would be. I think back to a time when I had four teenagers living under one roof – yikes! Teachers have had to devise new strategies to keep their students engaged while instructing remotely. I know from my conversations with parents, teachers and family members that kids are struggling. I have seen conflicting reports, everything from “Don’t sweat it, let your kids do what they want,” to “Stick to a daily schedule or routine”. I see the benefit to both sides, but if you are a parent also working from home or seeking employment, how does the former suggestion fit into your work routine? Hospital For Sick Children Guidelines Recently, the Hospital for Sick Children released guidelines for parents of children who will be returning to school in September. One of the concerns expressed in the literature is that it is essential to return to some semblance of life before the pandemic. Our childrens’ mental health will only continue to suffer if we cannot provide the structure of a school routine. But will we be able to do this safely for everyone? What about families with children who have special needs? Parents, teachers and children may feel the stress and worry about how this will be implemented. We have been telling them for months that it is not safe to go out into the world, but it is alright to do so now. We cannot tell them the pandemic is over because it is not. Talk to Your Children and Loved Ones As restrictions are being lifted in most areas of the province, we see services and businesses begin to open. The guidelines still emphasize the need to continue to distance, and the recommendation is that we continue to wear facemasks, mainly when distancing is a challenge. The pandemic is not over, and we need to keep that in mind. I am still anxious. So how do we talk about re-entering our community with our children? How do we address the anxiety they feel when most of us continue to experience the stress and worry that COVID-19 inevitably generates. One mistake we should avoid making is thinking that talking to our children about our worry and confusion won’t help. It will, especially if we also maintain optimism and try to propose workable solutions. While most of us do not know what to expect and may not have concrete answers for our children, it would be more frightening to dismiss the concerns they have. As long as we continue to communicate with our children and each other in a positive way, the feeling of being alone and confused might feel less daunting. The Uncertainty Of It All I continue to learn through this pandemic, along with everyone else. I have grown-up children, young grandchildren, and friends of many different backgrounds. I draw on my (mostly virtual) conversations with them. The common thread that surfaces in these conversations is the uncertainty of it all. What will the next few weeks look like? What about the next few months and years? We are all learning how to cope, but it can be more manageable when we do this together. I have a personal interest in promoting dialogue and being forthcoming about our mental wellbeing. Mental illness affects most of the population, whether you are living with a diagnosis or providing care and support for someone who is. Please stay tuned as I continue to explore this area and how we all can learn to navigate through what can seem like foreign territory. Compassionate Personal Injury Lawyers At Gluckstein Lawyers, we are proud of the work with do with our clients and in the community. Our team of experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyers and support professionals is here to guide and assist you after sustaining a catastrophic injury. The pandemic that currently confronts us all is of great concern, and we are committed to your wellbeing. If you require support because you or a loved one has sustained a serious personal injury, we are here. No question is too small. We will support each other to get through this crisis together.
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