How to Support Your Children’s Mental Health During the Pandemic

A majority of parents is capable of ensuring their children have good physical health. After all, physical health mainly involves giving your children nutritious meals, ensuring they exercise and maintaining their body cleanliness.

Mental health is not as straightforward as physical health is. This is because, in addition to the attention that physical health needs, mental health may need a higher degree of attention and the involvement of a professional. Just like adults, children have also suffered a great deal because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, their ability to come back to their normal selves depends on the help they get. The following are tips on how to support children’s mental health during the pandemic.

  1. Be a role model: As a parent or guardian, constantly talk to your child about your feelings, your fears, and insecurities and reveal how you cope with them. Do not express anger or anxiety during the conversation. This encourages the child to speak out about their issues too.
  2. Encourage their talents, hobbies, and skills: If your child has a hobby, support them through your finances and time where applicable. This gesture works to build the child’s self-confidence.
  3. Let the child know that everybody experiences pain, loss, anger, and fear and that he/she should accept these feelings because they are a part of life.
  4. A parent/guardian should give their children the opportunity to grow and develop. A child should be allowed to interact with friends and family freely. Through these interactions, the child is able to form a connection with someone whom they can talk to about private issues.
  5. Parents should not insist on physical punishment as a form of disciplining a child. Instead, think of discipline as a form of teaching where you lay your expectations. If the child surpasses your expectations, use rewards as a method of encouragement and if not, deny him/her some privileges.
  6. Take care of your child’s mental health just as you do their physical health. If you notice unusual behavior, talk to your child, and know what is bothering them. If you do not find a concrete solution, look for a professional’s advice.

To make their children tomorrow’s leaders, parents or guardians must make sure that the children are comfortable and enjoying their childhood. This includes supporting their children’s mental health at all times.

The Current State of Mental Health Care on US College Campuses

Between 2009 and 2017, the number of college students needing mental health services increased by 30 percent while student enrollment increased by just 6 percent. This vast increase in the number of students needing mental health counseling has so overwhelmed university health services that students face long wait times just to talk to a therapist. Not surprisingly, many students drop out of universities because of mental health struggles.

 

Students clearly need help. The pressures of college life are harming their health. Bright students with great potential may feel they have no choice but to quit. No degree, job, or career path is worth going through stress and anxiety that causes students to become depressed, suffer crippling anxiety, and engage in harmful behaviors like self-harm. But students need degrees in order to pursue the opportunities that will lead to a fulfilling life later.

 

Stress-related illness underpins a large part of the problem. This can be seen from statistics that show student visits to mental health centers increases as the term goes on, often doubling a midterms approach, as shown in Time Magazine.

 

Many students find the challenges of university life are too much. Between heavy course loads, social and peer pressures, extracurricular activities, fear of disappointing parents, and financial struggles and student debt, college students carry a heavy burden of worry and sometimes difficult, if not impossible, expectations. These expectations may be self-imposed or external, but either way, they can lead to physical and mental breakdown when students run themselves ragged day in and day out to meet them. College, after all, is supposed to be a time of self-discovery. It’s supposed to be fun and provide students with new found freedom.

 

Anxiety and high expectations have always been part of the university world. The current epidemic of negative effects may stem from an increasingly competitive society and the expectations that every student needs a high degree that lands them a prestigious job. Pressure like that is tough for anyone to take. Throwing an 18-year-old into such an environment seems to ask for trouble.

 

Universities across the country are taking note. As noted in Time Magazine, institutions like the University of Pennsylvania are increasing funding for mental health services. Off-campus, private mental health providers are creating programs aimed at helping students cope with the pressures of college life.

 

The epidemic of stress-related anxiety and depression clearly indicates these measures are needed. Parents, too, should be aware of how stress and pressure are affecting their children. Having goals and ambitions is important but should never come at the expense of health.