Local child psychologist offers advice on COVID-19 anxiety

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – The mental health effects of the ongoing pandemic are weighing on everyone, including children.

“Recent articles published this summer have shown that the anxiety of children and adolescents has doubled since the start of the pandemic,” said Dr. Michelle Martel, director of clinical training at the University of Kentucky and clinical psychologist for children approved.

The COVID-19 pandemic is fueling feelings of stress, fear, grief and general uncertainty about the future, which means it’s more important than ever to pay attention to signs that children may have mental health problems.

“It is very stressful for children and parents,” said Dr Martel. “There are quarantines, significant life events, social anxiety, and concerns about germs.”

While some signs of stress and anxiety can manifest as increased irritability or self-isolation, Dr Martel explained that young children can express somatic symptoms.

“Especially young children may not be able to tell you that they are feeling worried or stressed. Rather, they may complain of an upset stomach or headache,” she said. “Children will often report things that are more like their bodies than their feelings.”

Dr Martel said parents can help their children cope with anxiety by recognizing complex feelings when they arise.

“You know, talking about my own feelings and inviting them to express their feelings knowing that there are no bad feelings,” she said. “Incorporate some sort of recording at the end of the day. This is really helpful as it will give your child a chance to let off steam on everything they need and on you and let you know about issues as soon as they arise. go up. “

Pediatric hospitalizations from COVID-19 are on the rise, but deaths among children remain rare. However, children may worry about what happens if they or a family member becomes ill.

“Follow your child’s example. If he asks you the question, talk to him, ”said Dr Martel. “I always try to be very honest. I note, I think accurately, that the risk is low for them, but I am also honest that for people with health problems or the elderly, the risk is more. important.”

She said teaching children that they can take precautions to protect themselves and those around them, such as wearing masks and social distancing, can help children feel more secure and help reduce stress. ‘anxiety.

According to Dr. Martel, keeping a positive attitude and attitude during difficult times and conversations can also help.

“The extent to which you can remain calm and comforting will go a long way with your children,” she said. “Most of the time, be nice to yourself. Every day feels like a fire alarm, and if you’re struggling, you’re not alone.”

Parents can also be proactive in creating an environment in which their children can thrive by establishing and maintaining routines. Dr. Martel recommends creating a consistent, calming bedtime routine and setting aside time to participate in social activities.

“The structure is really heartwarming for them,” said Dr Martel.

Dr Martel pointed out that if you or your child is struggling to cope with stress and anxiety, you can always turn to a mental health professional for help.

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