Healthy Living Blog – Mental Health Effects of COVID-19 on Children & Adolescents

Healthy Living Blog – Mental Health Effects of COVID-19 on Children & Adolescents

Stay-At-Home and “Social” Distancing Measures on Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents are spending more time at home because of COVID-19 disruptions. The sudden closures of schools and extracurricular activities have almost stopped their in-person interactions. Kids and teens might be feeling more anxious, isolated, and depressed because of what is happening. It’s important for parents and guardians to pay attention to their children’s and teens’ feelings and overall mental health.

Effects of “social” distancing and school closures

The phrase “social” distancing is confusing. It really means to physically distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s important for children and teens to be social with their friends by using technology, but it won’t feel the same as having in-person interactions.

Adolescents may have more negative attitudes about social distancing measures. This is because at this stage in life, they are supposed to be making friends and other social connections outside of their families and homes. They are more likely to want to spend time with their friends than spend time at home. It’s possible for them to feel frustrated and isolated.

Social distancing guidelines might not affect younger children in the same way as adolescents. They already do a lot of activities with their parents so they are happier to spend time with their parents at home. But, children might be curious about why they can’t see their schoolmates and grandparents as often. Parents and guardians can explain, in simple terms, about what is happening and the need to do physical distancing to slow the spread of germs.

Signs to look out for mental health changes in children and adolescents: 

Anxiety:

  • Irritability
  • Having trouble separating from parents
  • Increased worry
  • Having trouble sleeping

Depression:

  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased tiredness
  • Lack of motivation and interest
  • Having trouble sleeping

How to support children’s and adolescents’ mental health

Parents and guardians can:

  • Be open when talking with children and adolescents about their feelings. Younger children may need more patience when describing how they are feeling.
  • Look after their mental health. For example, parents can practice healthy coping skills such as doing breathing exercises and taking walks. Children will most often follow their parents’ behaviors.
  • Plan a daily routine. Having a structure can reduce anxious feelings in children and teens.
  • Support children’s and teens’ use of technology for them to virtually connect with their friends and extended family.

Have questions or curious to learn more?  Please reach out to our Health Center and make an appointment to speak with a doctor or mental health profession.  AACI provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and many other languages. Call (408) 975-2763 to schedule your appointment today!