Pretty much everyone is facing some sort of struggle in the wake of the global pandemic created by COVID-19. Alaska families are trying to cope with the loss of loved ones, the uncertainty of unemployment and the challenges of working from home. This mountain of stress is causing anxiety, depression and substance misuse, and not just in adults. Kids and teens are dealing with their own set of struggles and the fallout from the stress.
If you’re worried that the pandemic is affecting your kids, here’s how you can help.
Understand Their Stressors
Alaska’s youth are struggling with school shutdowns, virtual learning, lack of sports and the loss of connection with their friends. These are real struggles that can trigger anxiety, depression and substance misuse. Every child and teen is different, so children living in the same home might react differently.
For some children, virtual learning might be really difficult and they may begin to fall behind in school. For others, missing their friends and the lack of social life might be the hardest part. Talk to your kids about how they’re feeling. Even though you may not have the solution they want, let them know you understand it’s a difficult time and you’ll get through it together.
Make Home a Safe Space
Your kids are living through a pandemic. Everybody is just doing the best they can, including them. If they fall behind in school, they’ll eventually catch up. If babies and toddlers are missing out on social interactions, play dates will return eventually. Many experts agree the most important thing you can do during the pandemic is to provide your kids with a safe space. If kids feel loved and supported in their own home, it better equips them to cope with everything else they can’t control.
Keep an Eye Out
What’s happening right now isn’t normal, so there’s a pretty good chance your kids might be acting differently. Parents are reporting an increased number of children and teens being lethargic, acting angrier than normal and having trouble sleeping. These could be signs of a mental illness like anxiety and depression. If emotions, behavior or mood swings begin to alter their lives, happiness or schooling, it’s time to seek outside help. If you discover they’re misusing substances like drugs or alcohol, that’s another reason to get help.
Please always feel free to contact our The Link intake center. Knowledgeable staff will answer any questions about services and philosophies and can schedule and complete integrated behavioral health and substance use assessments. You can reach The Link at (907) 789-7610.