Research shows that the stress and anxiety children are experiencing during coronavirus can have an impact on their health later on in life. –Elizabeth Schilling
As an adult, do you feel isolated in quarantine and as if your mental health is being affected? If your answer is yes, you are not alone, but have you thought about the lasting impacts on mental health quarantine and coronavirus will have on children? Society is experiencing an unprecedented pandemic that effects every person and child.
According to the Child’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, crisis in a community like coronavirus increases the chance of a child developing anxiety, depression, behavior problems, substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts. According to Dr. Golberstein, Dr. Wen and Dr. Miller in the JAMA Pediatric Journal, 55 million children between kindergarten and 12th grade have been affected by school closure, causing changes in a child’s life leading to anxiety and stress. The stress and anxiety that coronavirus can cause children to experience Adverse childhood events or ACEs. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes ACEs as types of abuse, exposure to substance abuse, mental illness, and even violence within the house that can affect anyone person. According to the CDC, the concern with ACEs and impact of mental illness with coronavirus is the lasting negative impacts that can extend to adulthood for the child.
Schools are a vital part to development for a child. According to the CDC, ACEs can be prevented by reducing exposure to smoking and heavy drinking, while improving education. Child’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters explains that some children are at a higher risk for negative exposure to coronavirus, such as child who already has a high ACE scores, possible through the exposure of substance abuse, mental illness, and/or racism. Dr. Golberstein, Dr. Wen and Dr. Miller in the JAMA Pediatric Journal express that schools are not only for learning but some children and families rely on schools to provide food security. Although ACEs can affect anyone, the CDC states that social and economic conditions can affect the ACE score. According to Chang, Jiang, Mkandarwire, and Shen in the PLoS One journal, there is a connection with depression and ACEs, while also have a higher change of substance abuse, other risky behaviors, and chronic diseases like heart disease.
As a parent, how can you work to decrease mental health disorders and high ACEs scores to help improve your child’s overall health during their life? St Jude’s encourages parents to start by finding out about what your child knows about coronavirus and their feelings towards the virus. St Jude’s suggests asking “what are you friends saying about coronavirus” and “how worried are you about coronavirus?” It is important to understand that each child will handle this time very differently. St Jude’s encourages parents to be open and honest with the child, while also understanding that a child’s mind is very creative, which can lead to anxiety during this time of stress.
To help prevent ACEs, depression, and anxiety related to coronavirus the Child’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters suggests limiting the child’s exposure to social media, and news outlets. As a parent, you are also dealing with a lot of emotions and anxiety related to what is happening in the world, Child’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters urges you to talk to other adults to help lower the fear your child is experiencing and improve your overall mental health by having the conversations that you need to have with the appropriate individuals. As a parent, it is so important to take care of yourself, so you are your best to take care of your child.
If you notice that your child is having intense emotions and behaviors, such as self-harm, nightmares, regressive behaviors, that are persistence that do not respond to your normal methods Child’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters suggests for parents to seek help from a professional health care provider. Remember that you and your child are not alone, and we are all in this together, as a society we can work to reduce anxiety and stress related to coronavirus.
Elizabeth Schilling is an accelerated nursing student at George Washington University in her third semester with the projection to graduate December 2020. She is passionate about reducing Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) and the potential mental health affects coronavirus will have on our society. She hopes to pursue pediatric nursing upon graduating GWU.