Is COVID-19 impacting your child’s mental health? What you can do to help

SPOKANE, Wash. — There’s no denying it. Life as we know it has changed because of the pandemic.

For students, this fall will be different than any other back-to-school experience. Experts say not having the social interaction students are used to could take a toll on their mental health.

“It’s still a challenge daily because I don’t think they truly understand quite yet that they might not be able to go back to school at this point,” said Sabrina Torres.

The emotions we’ve been feeling during this pandemic can be hard to process. For kids and teens, it can be especially difficult.

Torres said as a parent, it can be especially difficult.

“It’s been so difficult because I’m like, how do you tell your five year old that’s been so stoked to go to kindergarten and start at her sisters school that she’s not going and her mom is her new teacher?,” Torres said.

She’s not alone.

“I don’t have any magic answers or this is the right thing to do, but what I can tell you is we need to meet our youth with compassion,” said Aly Gibson, Program Administrator at Frontier Behavioral Health.

Gibson said compassion starts with creating a safe space.

“Have we had a conversation of, man, how’s that sitting with you? How are you doing with this? You’re not going to get to see your buddies, what is that like for you?,” she said.

Even when they aren’t seeing their friends, David Crump, Director of Mental Health with Spokane Public Schools said it’s important for kids to still feel connected.

“We may have to comply with distancing physically, but emotionally and relationship wise, that’s where we get our strength,” Crump said.

Crump said contrary to popular belief, screen time can be beneficial to kids who are feeling isolated.

“Adolescents and children are really good at social media, so use that, but you have to provide the structure,” he said.

Structure not just with time spent online, but also every day activities.

“Kids still need a schedule. Scheduled time to go outside, scheduled time to exercise, scheduled time to do social connectedness,” Crump said.

Overall, it’s about finding ways to help our kids feel less alone.

“It’s not the best situation, but we can make it a better situation for our kids,” said Torres.

Resources that can help:

Frontier Behavior Health intake assessments and outpatient appointments: 509.838.4651

Regional Crisis Line: 1.877.266.1818

Washington Listens: 1.833.681.0211